You Don’t Have to Use the Postal Service to Send Mail to the IRS - But Watch Out!

  • Published: November 15, 1997
  • By Bardin Levavy

Until this year (1997), if you wanted to comply with the “timely mailing as timely filing/paying” rule of Internal Revenue Code Section 7502, you had one choice - the United States Postal Service. No other method was recognized by the Service. Consequently, if alternative forms of mailing were used and the document was lost by the Service, the taxpayer was disadvantaged in presenting proof of mailing and receipt. Section 7502 speaks only of the United States Postal Service. Alternative mailing services were accepted only to the extent provided by regulations or designated by the Secretary of the Treasury.

Earlier this year, the IRS designated certain private delivery systems which could be used in compliance with the statute. These were:

● 1. Airborne’s Overnight Air Express Service, Next Afternoon Service, and Second Day Service;

● 2. DHL’s “Same Day” Service and DHL USA Overnight;

● 3. FedEx Priority Overnight, FedEx Standard Overnight and FedEx 2Day; and

● 4. UPS Next Day Air, UPS Next Day Air Saver, UPS 2nd Day Air, and UPS 2nd Day Air A.M.

The Service recently confirmed that these services could continue to be used to meet the standards of Section 7502 until further notice.

But the Postal Service retains an advantage. A certified mail receipt from the USPS remains prima facie evidence of delivery; a receipt from a private delivery service is not equivalent proof. As a result, if you use an authorized private delivery service and IRS claims non-receipt of the document and the taxpayer claims otherwise, you have the entire burden of proving that the document was delivered.