As published in the Winter Park/Maitland Observer, Thursday Jan. 3, 2012 Edition Offers... Read More »
Tax Tip: Keep Proof that You Filed Your Tax Return
If you paper file at the post office, use Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested. Get the postmarked paper receipt, because the postal service purges its computer records after two years. Certified mail adds $2.70 to the postage; the paper return receipt costs another $2.20. $4.90 isn’t usually too much to spend to save your job.
If you really want security, e-file. You get delivery confirmation quickly, and you don’t have to worry about the mail going astray.
Everything we send to the IRS on behalf of our clients is sent via certified mail, return receipt requested, Federal Express or it is electronically filed.
Our Experience with IRS Misplacement of Taxpayer Filings
I am not making this up:
We were disputing the manner in which the IRS had conducted an audit of my client’s tax returns and the legality of the underlying assessment.
In order to properly pursue the claim we needed to examine the IRS’s records.
We filed a proper and timely FOIA request and waited for the IRS to provide the documents.
After many months we received a one paragraph letter from the IRS stating that the building in which the records had been stored had burned down.
Consequently, even though the loss of the records was the IRS’s fault (it should have secured the records more safely and had a backup system in place), my client was required to prosecute his case without critical documents he needed to prove that the IRS assessment was illegal or invalid.
The Irrebuttable Presumption: The Taxpayer is Lying and Never Actually Filed His Return
The truth is that the IRS misplaces taxpayers filings quite frequently.
Nevertheless, your failure to provide proof of mailing gives rise to an irrebuttable presumption that you did not file the return and are lying through your teeth about it.
I would love to see a study comparing the incidence of the IRS’s misplacement of taxpayer filings with the incidence of taxpayer dishonesty about those filings.
I almost inclined to believe that the more accurate presumption is that the IRS lost or mishandled the taxpayer’s records.
Perhaps the irrebuttable presumption should be that the IRS lost your return.
Of course, this isn’t going to happen so follow Joe’s advice and document the mailing of any return or other filing you send to the IRS.