When to Get Proof of Mailing
Have you ever mailed anything to us where you got proof of mailing or perhaps wished you did? Now that filing season is here, it seems like a good time to address how to mail to us tax returns, correspondence, payments and any other items you or your clients mail to us.
Taxpayers and representatives often ask how they can prove that something was mailed timely or at all when we do not have record of ever receiving it or it is received by us past the due date. Generally, the first evidence we consider for timely mailing is the postmark or a certified, registered, or tracking mail receipt of the document or payment. An original or copy of a certified or registered mail receipt may establish the mailing date in conjunction with all other available evidence. In the case of tax returns, we encourage taxpayers to file and pay electronically which provides evidence of timely filing and payment of taxes.
If a taxpayer does not have a corresponding certified or registered mail receipt, we will consider all relevant evidence in making an administrative determination of whether the taxpayer sent the information timely. The taxpayer bears the burden of proof on this issue. The relevant evidence and factors we may consider include but are not limited to:
- Consistency of the taxpayer’s statements and documentation the taxpayer provides.
- Accuracy of the taxpayer’s statements based on our records.
- Taxpayer’s filing history, coupled with other evidence that weighs in favor of the taxpayer.
- Taxpayer’s action after the event or occurrence.
- Timeframes in which the taxpayer responds.
- Declaration from the U.S. Post Office or credible third party testimony.
- Receipt of other documents or payments that posted by the due date.
- The date of filing the federal tax return.
For example, it is relevant when the taxpayer makes no inquiry why a check for payment of tax did not clear the taxpayer's bank account or no effort is made to follow up on a claim when a claim for refund has been filed. Consistent with the courts, we determined uncorroborated taxpayer testimony, journal entries regarding timely mailing, and tax preparer testimony that the billing statements show activity close to the filing date as insufficient to meet the burden of proof of timely mailing of a return, claim for refund, payment, or other time sensitive responsive correspondence.
If timely mailing cannot be established and we impose a late filing penalty, evidence of reasonable cause for late filing can still be provided. On a case by case basis, we will evaluate the facts and circumstances for the late filing to determine whether reasonable cause exists to waive the penalty. If it is determined burden of proof to establish reasonable cause was met, we will waive the late filing penalty and correct the account. In the case of an amended tax return, we will allow the refund/credit if the burden of proof was met for establishing a timely claim for refund.