You don’t have to send it by U.S. Mail, but details matter.

September 11th, 2012 by Joe Kristan

Thanks to electronic filing, we can do most of our tax business nowadays without a trip to the post office to get a stamped postmark for our return filings.  But not everybody e-files, and some filings still have to go by paper.

A few years ago, the IRS broke its old tradition and agreed to accept some private delivery service postmarks as good for the “timely-mailed, timely-filed” rule — the rule that says that if you get it mailed by the filing deadline, it doesn’t matter when it shows up at the IRS.  But an Illinois couple yesterday learned the hard way that not all private delivery options are created equal.  They used FedEx “Express Saver Third business day” service to mail a petition to the Tax Court.  That turned out to be a false move.  From the Tax Court opinion (my emphasis and links):

In Notice 2004-83, 2004-2 C.B. 1030 (2004 notice), the Commissioner updated the list of companies and classes of delivery service that constitute designated private delivery services for purposes of section 7502. Thus, effective January 1, 2005, and insofar as FedEx is concerned, the list of designated private delivery services was as follows: FedEx Priority Overnight, FedEx Standard Overnight, FedEx 2 Day, FedEx International Priority, and FedEx International First. The 2004 notice expressly states that FedEx is not designated with respect to any type of delivery service not expressly identified. Thus, “Express Saver Third business day” service is not a designated private delivery service.

The petition didn’t arrive in time, and the taxpayers lose their chance to fight their case in Tax Court.  They now have to pay up and sue for a refund in District Court or the Court of Claims.

The moral?  Private delivery postmarks can be a life-saver, especially with 24-hour Fed-Ex/Kinkos  late hours in this age of postal service cutbacks.  But if you use them, be sure you use one of the designated services.  And Jiffy Express isn’t one of them.

Oh, and the IRS should be more liberal in designating qualifying private delivery services as the US Postal Service totters.  You shouldn’t have to use the high-priced spread.

Cite: Scaggs, TC Memo 2012-258 (click here if link doesn’t work).

The TaxProf has more.

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