What's the Best Way to Get My Tax Return to the IRS?

Tax Day is coming a little later for taxpayers this year. Since April 15 falls on a holiday this year, taxpayers get the benefit of an extra day -- and the weekend -- pushing Tax Day to April 18.

To ensure that your tax return reaches the IRS safely, consider the following:

  1. E-file. The IRS encourages taxpayers to e-file when possible. With e-file, you'll receive an acknowledgment that your return was accepted -- no guesswork or waiting required.
  2. U.S. Mail. If you file a return on paper, you may be tempted to just drop your tax return in the mail. However, if you send your return by regular mail, you can't be assured that it was received by the IRS, so consider using registered or certified mail to file your tax returns. Not only can you easily trace your mail using these methods, the IRS considers registered or certified mail the best evidence that your return was timely filed. If you opt for U.S. Mail, note that the IRS has changed the filing location for several areas, so double check where to send your return by reading the instructions on your tax form.
  3. Private Delivery Services. You can also use private delivery services designated by the IRS to meet the "timely mailing as timely filing/paying" rule for tax returns and payments. If necessary, you can contact the respective private delivery service to find how to get written proof of the mailing date. Otherwise, you can usually track delivery online so you can rest assured your returns have been delivered. Remember that private delivery services cannot deliver items to P.O. boxes -- if you only have an IRS P.O box for delivery, you must use the U.S. Postal Service. Also be careful to use the private delivery services which have been approved by IRS. Those include only the following:
  • DHL Express (DHL): DHL Same Day Service.
  • Federal Express (FedEx): FedEx Priority Overnight, FedEx Standard Overnight, FedEx 2Day, FedEx International Priority and FedEx International First.
  • United Parcel Service (UPS): UPS Next Day Air, UPS NextDay Air Saver, UPS 2nd Day Air, UPS 2nd Day Air A.M., UPS Worldwide Express Plus, and UPS Worldwide Express.
Make sure your tax returns make it safely to the IRS Plan ahead in order to avoid last-minute stress associated with rushing to the post office (or private delivery box) unprepared. It's important to note, for example, that postal rates for larger envelopes go up the day before tax returns are due, on April 17, though regular first class mail remains the same.

Of course, if you absolutely can't get your return together by the due date, consider filing for an extension. The same timely filing rules apply.

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