Penalties to re-file tax forms?
May 31, 2016 10:23 AM   Subscribe

Asking on behalf of my roommate - she sent in her tax forms USPS certified mail, but the Post Office forgot to scan the tracking code, so they can't confirm whether her taxes have been delivered. Should she re-send them, or trust the post office? And how do you re-file forms?

She has until the 15th of June (international scholar, rules are a little different). So there wouldn't be any late fees. But would there be any fines if she re-filed them and it turned out to be a duplicate? Or any disadvantage to re-filing them? Is there a form she needs to fill out declaring these to be duplicate copies of the forms, or is a cover note explaining what happened good enough?

I do Turbo Tax and the EZ form so I'm way outta my depth here.
posted by EmpressCallipygos to Work & Money (10 answers total)
You say she sent in "her taxes," so she must have included a check or some form of payment. She can confirm whether on not her payment cleared. That will confirm that her tax returns were delivered to the taxing authorities.
posted by JimN2TAW at 10:38 AM on May 31, 2016

Nope, just a tax return - as an international scholar, she is exempt, so it's just the form saying, basically, "I'm exempt because of reasons."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:51 AM on May 31, 2016

The IRS's hotline for individual filer questions is 800-829-1040 (cf. here). She can call and see if they've gotten it.
posted by tivalasvegas at 10:55 AM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't quite understand how the Post Office can forget to scan the tracking code. A certified letter is scanned at multiple points during the delivery process and the recipient signs for it at the end. Even if the originating PO forgot to scan it there should still be delivery updates and a signature on record. Did she go to the Post Office with her postmarked certified mail receipt stub and ask them for help? In my experience they are pretty helpful with this kind of stuff and can pull all kinds of otherwise inaccessible records for you if there's evidence they screwed up with a certified mail piece. Also, if she sent it certified mail, return receipt (which most people who send certified mail do) she should still get the little green postcard back in a few weeks if the IRS got it.

You can call the IRS for confirmation, but I'm pretty sure there will not be problems caused by submitting the same return twice, especially if neither return is submitted late.
posted by phoenixy at 10:57 AM on May 31, 2016

She has tried calling the IRS, but reports that they have been unwilling to help.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:07 AM on May 31, 2016

If she does not owe anything there will not be a penalty. (IANATA, IANYTA). But it's totally worth the return postcard for 5-6 dollars and that comes with a tracking number.
posted by sammyo at 11:35 AM on May 31, 2016

thanks so far; she's been peeking in at this site too (waves at roommate! :-> ) and is thinking it may just be worth resending the form for safety's sake. She also says she used one of those rent-a-PO-box shipping places rather than going to a proper post office, so that may explain how the initial scan didn't happen. Although yeah, it's weird that it didn't get scanned anywhere along the route (unless it did, but they didn't find an initial scan to attach that record to and didn't know what to do).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:16 PM on May 31, 2016

I don't quite understand how the Post Office can forget to scan the tracking code.

The Post Office very frequently forgets to take the return receipt card off and scan it. Trust me on this, I see it multiple times a week.
posted by WCityMike at 2:23 PM on May 31, 2016

I'd just send it again, and as someone who has been through various nooks and crannies of the IRS English muffin, I'd be extremely surprised if they penalized for that. She wants to know that her stuff got to them, they want a valid return. If they got the first one, they'll throw the second away (or something), and if they didn't get it then she gets hers in under the wire.
posted by rhizome at 5:41 PM on May 31, 2016

Former IRS Tax examiner, this my my opinion and not that of the Service.

I believe that your roommate's tax return was delivered to the IRS without error despite not getting the USPS verification only because the vast vast majority of correspondence sent to the IRS reaches the IRS nominally.

If it would ease your roommate's mind, she should submit a duplicate return. However, assuming your roommate's original return (Transaction Code 150) posted to her tax module nominally, when her duplicate return posts to her tax module (Transaction Code 976) the Individual Master File will likely create an "-A" Freeze on her tax module and generate a CP36 notice. (Ref Internal Revenue Manual Any refund due your roommate for the relevant tax period will be held pending the release of the "-A" Freeze. But on the plus side, any tax examiner worth their salt would recognize the situation and release that "-A" Freeze with a TC 290!

Rather than potentially confuse things I would suggest that your roommate send written correspondence to the IRS with some form of USPS tracking inquiring about the status of her original filing. Your roommate could die of old age waiting to get someone from the IRS on the phone.
posted by Rob Rockets at 10:22 AM on June 1, 2016

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