Do You Need to ‘Timely’ Send Out Your Tax Return?

Hi all! For those of you who want to send tax returns to the IRS by Private Delivery Service (i.e., don’t or can’t e-file) but wonder if the tax return will reach the IRS in a ‘timely’ manner and can you use just any ole’ PDS……well the answers are right below.

In most cases the IRS considers ‘timely mailing as timely filing’. That is, if the tax return, payment, election, etc. is mailed on or before the due date, the IRS considers it filed on time, regardless of when it arrives. Prior to 1997, this rule only applied to the U.S. Postal Service. Thus, if you mailed your return by a private delivery service, the IRS considered it filed on time only if it arrived on time. Now, certain private delivery services are afforded the same status as the post office. The delivery services and the type of service are:

The list of designated PDSs effective April 11, 2016 is as follows:

DHL Express

  • DHL Express 9:00
  • DHL Express 10:30
  • DHL Express 12:00
  • DHL Express Worldwide
  • DHL Express Envelope
  • DHL Import Express 10:30
  • DHL Import Express 12:00
  • DHL Import Express Worldwide

Federal Express (FedEx)

  • FedEx First Overnight
  • FedEx Priority Overnight
  • FedEx Standard Overnight
  • FedEx 2 Day
  • FedEx International Next Flight Out
  • FedEx International Priority
  • FedEx International First
  • FedEx International Economy

United Parcel Service (UPS)

  • UPS Next Day Air Early AM
  • UPS Next Day Air
  • UPS Next Day Air Saver
  • UPS 2nd Day Air
  • UPS 2nd Day Air A.M.
  • UPS Worldwide Express Plus
  • UPS Worldwide Express

FedEx and UPS are not designated with respect to any type of delivery service not identified above. Therefore, for UPS regular ground service doesn’t qualify.


Only the services listed above for each carrier qualifies for this special rule. Other services provided by these carriers are not covered.

You may still want to use the postal service. The rules for substantiating the “postmark” on private delivery services varies. Don’t forget, it’s not just the mailing but proving the date of mailing that counts. Check with the delivery service on their policy for the various types of delivery. Obtaining a proof of mailing from the U.S. Postal Service may be more convenient.

In addition, just keep in mind that the rules for  the states vary. Check the individual state. For example, at least one state accepts delivery by the above carriers, but to a different address than if you’re sending the return or other item by U.S. Postal Service. And, as of the writing of this blog post, one state has not accepted the updated list.


  • Notice 2016-30
  • Notice 2015-38
  • Notice 2004-83
  • Notice 2002-62
  • Notice 2001-62
  • Notice 1998-47
  • Notice 1997-50
  • Rev. Proc. 97-26
  • Rev. Proc. 97-19


Bruce – Your Host at The Tax Nook

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Categories: Tax Return Filing

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