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Protect Yourself When Mailing Tax Officials

By Marcia Richards Suelzer, MA, JD | June 29, 2012

No one wants to be in a game of "he said, she said," especially if involves the delivery of important tax returns or Tax Court documents. Using the proper mailing procedures provides prima facie evidence the documents were delivered. Simply put, this means that it's up to the IRS or the Tax Court to prove they weren't delivered.

Recently issued IRS regulations make it clear that only the proper use of registered or certified mail through the United States Post Office or a similar service provided by an IRS-approved private delivery service (PDS) will qualify as constitute prima facie evidence of delivery.

Caution. Be aware that you may do yourself harm if you try and use a "better" US Post Office delivery method that registered or certified mail. For example, a Signature Confirmation may seem stronger, it will not shift the burden of proving the delivery onto the IRS or Tax Court.

The IRS rejected, as beyond the scope of its authority, suggestions to extend the prima facie evidence of delivery to mail sent using other US Post Office services, including Priority Mail, Certificate of Mailing, Express Mail Receipt, Delivery Confirmation Receipt, and Signature Confirmation.

Tip. The following private delivery services are currently approved by the IRS for purposes of both the delivery rule and the timely mailing rule:

  • DHL Express (DHL): DHL Same Day Service; DHL Next Day 10:30 am; DHL Next Day 12:00 pm; DHL Next Day 3:00 pm; and DHL 2nd Day Service;
  • Federal Express (FedEx): FedEx Priority Overnight, FedEx Standard Overnight, FedEx 2 Day, FedEx International Priority, and FedEx International First; and
  • United Parcel Service (UPS): UPS Next Day Air, UPS Next Day Air Saver, UPS 2nd Day Air, UPS 2nd Day Air A.M., UPS Worldwide Express Plus, and UPS Worldwide Express.

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