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Don't waste your tax prep fee by cheaping out on postage

April 18, 2011

Maybe you spent hundreds of dollars to have a preparer do your the 1040 that reports your business income. Or maybe you spent the 32 hours the 1040 instructions say is the average estimated time it takes to do a business 1040. Either way, you've made a substantial investment in time or money.

But you still have to get it to the IRS. The best way is to file electronically. You get an electronic receipt to prove you filed on time, and any refunds come back much more quickly.

20110416iabiz If you aren't filing electronically, now isn't the time to cheap out. You ought to spring for the extra $5.10 to file your return "certified mail, return receipt requested." It's well worth the time and trouble of going to the post office to get that postmarked receipt. The tax law is full of sad stories of taxpayers who lost thousands of dollars because they didn't have a postmark to document that they filed on time. Don't let it happen to you!

If there's no post office open or handy -- or you don't finish your return until after the post office closes -- you can also use a mailing receipt from one of the designated private delivery services authorized by IRS for timely return shipment. As private delivery services don't deliver to post office boxes, you'll want to refer to this list of service center street addresses. But be sure the delivery service will get the date right, and that the shipment date on their records is the one you want.

Or you could just take your chances with a late-night post office.  Good luck with that.

And don't procrastinate, because Jiffy Express isn't a designated private delivery service.

This final 2011 filing season tip also appears at, the Des Moines Business Record blog for entrepreneurs -- a great resource.

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