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Tips for snail mail tax filers

Feeling left out because the whole tax world seems to have gone electronic? Don't. There are still some taxpayers who rely on old-school snail mail filing.

Some folks refuse to e-file for a variety of reasons.

Blue_mailbox (2) They don't trust the system when it comes to protecting their personal tax and financial data.

Others don't trust the software, preferring to pull out the calculator and tote the numbers themselves.

A good number of folks who file real paper returns owe the IRS and don't want to pay the extra fees associated with most e-payment methods. Plus, although the IRS is generally quick to cash checks, the old fashioned method gives them another day or two with the money in their accounts instead of the U.S. Treasury.

And then there are the folks who have to file a paper return. They're claiming, for example, the first-time homebuyer tax credit and have to include the paper documentation so that the IRS will know they qualify for the tax break. 

If you're still a snail mail aficionado, regardless of your reasons, here are some tips for you:

Make sure your post office is open late. At least one in every town stays open past the usual closing time on Tax Day. The U.S. Postal Service office locator can help you find your nearest branch. Check with it to make sure of its operating hours.

Mail your return first class. The IRS recognizes this postmark as proof that a return has been mailed on time. If you want added assurance, send it certified mail, return receipt requested.

And double check the postage you need. The rates for larger envelopes, which will affect most tax returns, went up yesterday (how convenient!). So don't scrimp on stamps. You definitely don't want your return delayed because of insufficient postage.

Send your return to the right IRS office. As the IRS shuffles duties to make more efficient use of personnel, some service centers now handle returns from different parts of the country than they did previously.

Since the IRS is no longer mailing out return packages with pre-addressed envelopes, check the mailing addresses listed in your tax form instruction booklet.  Or use the IRS' interactive map to find where to send your 1040.

Put your return address on your envelope. This will help ensure that if your return doesn't make it to the IRS, it does make it back to you.

Be patient. I ran to my local Post Office branch earlier today to mail my first estimated tax payment for 2011. It was the busiest I'd seen the place in months, thanks to last-minute tax filers.

Despite the growth of e-filing, I suspect that's going to be the case today in postal faciliteis nationwide.

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Barbara, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1010 for confirmation, but I would send it to the same address as your 2010 return. The agency has over the past few years realigned duties at its various campuses, so where a return was sent last year (for 2009 taxes) might not be the same place that handles returns from your state now. If you need the 2009 return itself, you can download it here,,id=98339,00.html


I can't seem to find on the IRS website where to file a late return for 2009. Would the address be the same for current 2010 returns?

I really enjoy your site. Your posts are so helpful and clear and upbeat even with a difficult subject!

Thank you!

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