Procedure for Mailing a Paper Tax Return

Technological advancement has reached all sectors of society, including the IRS. These days, more and more people e-file their tax returns instead of following the traditional paper filing. What's more, e-filed returns save the IRS money and make the process more efficient.

IRS rules require professional tax preparers to file their clients' returns electronically unless the taxpayer elects to opt out of electronic filing. If the taxpayer chooses to opt out, he or she must submit a special form with the tax return explaining why.

Paper Returns Only

Electronic filling is not required for everyone. In fact, the IRS requires the following taxpayers to paper file their returns:

  • Married, but filing a separate return, and the taxpayer lives in a community property state;
  • A taxpayer who claims a dependent who has been claimed by someone else;
  • Taxpayers who submit tax forms that cannot be electronically filed, e.g., a multiple support agreement; and
  • Taxpayers who file before e-file begins (January 15) or after e-file ends (October 15).

Paper Filing

Filing on paper is a good option for you if you have a fairly simple tax return, or if you are not eligible for e-filing. For those with more complex returns, be aware that the IRS enters every paper return it receives electronically so it is simpler to e-file.

Tips for Paper Filing

  • Check that the math is correct. The main reason for IRS corrected returns is mathematical errors.
  • Make sure your names and social security numbers appear on every page, both front and back.
  • Re-check the address on the return. This is the address where the IRS will send any refunds and notices, and no one wants a check or other information going to the wrong address. Also, those who move should enter their new address, a P.O. Box, or another permanent address. If you will be moving soon but do not yet know your address, consider using a P.O. Box or other permanent address.
  • Place forms in the proper order if they contain schedules, such as the 1040 or 1040a form. Each additional form has a sequence number in the upper right-hand corner. Use that sequence and staple them to the return.
  • Send any tax payment with the return. If it is close to the April 17th deadline, make your payment by web pay, credit card, or check.
  • Secure an automatic extension if the return will be mailed close to the April 17th deadline. This will prevent penalties in the event the return gets a late postmark.
  • Make sure the return is mailed to the proper service center.

While most taxpayers choose to e-file, many still use paper forms, either by rule or by choice. For those paper filing, using the above tips should help streamline the filing process.

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