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Tax Court: The Postmark Rule May Not Always Apply

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As evidenced by two new Tax Court cases, taxpayers and practitioners alike should be aware the postmark rule can have its exceptions. 

Jan 27th 2020
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For those unaware, when tax returns and other tax documents are sent by regular mail, the “postmark rule” generally applies if the IRS doesn’t receive the paperwork in time.

Under the postmark rule, a return is treated as having been filed on the date of the postmark on the envelope, even the correspondence is received after the due date. In other words, if you file a return with an envelope postmarked April 15th and the IRS doesn’t get it until, say, April 17th, it’s still considered to be filed on time.

But a return envelope that is postmarked April 16th or after is treated as being late, even if it isn’t your fault. Also, note that the postmark rule only counts toward your benefit for mailings through the U.S. Postal Service (UPS). 

If you’re not using the UPS, all bets are off. In the two new cases, taxpayers challenged the mailbox rule with favorable tax outcomes.

Case #1: A couple paid all their 2012 tax liability through withholding. They were granted an extension to file their 2012 return to October 13, 2013. But they didn’t file by that date.

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