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To be filed with FEDERAL return
January 18, 2012 2:45 PM   Subscribe

I'm filing my US federal and state tax returns by mail this year. I realized after stamping and sealing one of the envelopes that I mixed up the W-2s, so that the Federal copy (Copy B) is on the state return and vice-versa. Are the names just a formality, or do the Feds really, really need Copy B?
posted by hwyengr to Law & Government (16 answers total)
 
I will admit not knowing the actual answer, but as a bit of advice, I'd go ahead and open the envelope and swap them. If you are sending to Franchise Tax Board, I would take no chances to give them any opportunity to screw things up. I've always found the IRS to be flexible and helpful, and FTB to be the apex of incompetence. (With all due apologies to anyone who works there, I understand it's the system and not you personally.)
posted by sageleaf at 3:10 PM on January 18, 2012


It'll be accepted but I would accept the loss of a stamp and switch anyway.

All W-2s are scanned and they don't care about that part of it. It's just to help you.
posted by michaelh at 3:18 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I mixed them up last year, only to realize it after it had already been mailed. Nothing happened.

I've had negative money for the last few tax seasons, though, so I figure I'm a pretty low priority for them. YMMV.
posted by phunniemee at 3:18 PM on January 18, 2012


I forgot to add, scrapping the stamp means going to the post office for more stamps (I had exactly 2 left), which I really wanted to avoid.
posted by hwyengr at 3:20 PM on January 18, 2012


If you decide to switch it:

1. Ask your neighbor for a stamp.
2. Cut out or steam the stamp and tape it on the new envelope.
posted by michaelh at 3:23 PM on January 18, 2012


Why do you lose a stamp? No tape around anywhere?
posted by dilettante at 3:23 PM on January 18, 2012


I forgot to add, scrapping the stamp means going to the post office for more stamps (I had exactly 2 left), which I really wanted to avoid.

Do you not send your tax returns certified mail, in any event? Highly recommended. See this, e.g.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:29 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's just a formality.

Also, you can't tape over stamps - I did this once and it was returned (something about their scanning devices and preventing re-use of stamps). That said, depending on your income, you may be able to e-file for free (fed at least).

And on preview, as Admiral Haddock said, certified is always best when filing on paper (you can print priority mail labels at home via USPS.com)
posted by melissasaurus at 3:32 PM on January 18, 2012


Also, you can't tape over stamps -

I think Dilettante meant that the OP could cut open the envelope and then tape it back shut. I do this all the time--though point taken that you should be careful not to cover the stamp with tape. USPS gets testy about that.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:36 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I meant that the OP could affix tape on the sides of the stamp or the cut-out rectangle that had the stamp on it. Excellent point.
posted by michaelh at 3:40 PM on January 18, 2012


It's probably best to put a little glue behind the stamp as well.
posted by michaelh at 3:41 PM on January 18, 2012


This is not legal advice. In practical terms, I can't imagine any way that this would be a problem. The IRS only cares about whether the form backs up the numbers on your return. See, e.g., 26 USCA 6611(g)(2)(B) (a return is in processible form if it contains sufficient information to permit the mathematical verification of tax liability shown on the return).

HOWEVER. If it's going to bother you, then save yourself some stress and open the envelopes, switch out the forms, and retape them shut.
posted by slmorri at 4:12 PM on January 18, 2012


I don't know why I didn't think about re-taping the envelope. Switched 'em for peace of mind.

I do send returns by certified mail when sending a check or the refund is huge, but my withholdings were spot on this year, so these returns aren't too critical.
posted by hwyengr at 4:32 PM on January 18, 2012


I used to work in IRS customer service - happens all the time - not a problem.
posted by KneeDeep at 4:52 PM on January 18, 2012


In the future, put the envelope in the freezer. You can open it and then reseal when it gets warm again.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:41 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


means going to the post office for more stamps (I had exactly 2 left), which I really wanted to avoid.

Can you buy stamps at the supermarket where you live?
posted by bentley at 8:12 PM on January 18, 2012


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