5 last-minute tax filing tips
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Be sure to pay any taxes you owe with your Form 4868

5 tips to make sure your snail mailed tax return gets to the IRS

Electronic tax filing continues to grow. The Internal Revenue Services had received almost 91 million e-filed returns through April 3.

That's slightly ahead of the e-filing numbers at the same point a year ago. And it represents more than 91 percent of filers.

But that means 9 percent of folks -- literally millions of filers -- are sticking with old fashioned snail mail. 

Reasons for paper tax returns: Some people resist e-filing their taxes because they're concerned that their personal tax and financial data might be compromised.

Others simply prefer pull out the old adding machine and run their tax numbers rather than trust software calculations.

Don't forget the folks who owe Uncle Sam, but don't want to pay the extra fees associated with most e-payment methods, specifically credit or debit card options.

A few folks must file a paper return. They are, for example, using forms or schedules that cannot be processed by the IRS e-file system or they include explanatory information about their return.

Or maybe they're just nostalgic for the Pony Express, whose 155th anniversary was celebrated by a special Google doodle game.

Plainview-to-Lubbock Texas mule mail service circa 1907 via Traces of Texas

Or, in the case of Texas Panhandle residents, the mule mail days pictured above courtesy of Traces of Texas.

Snail mail tax filing tips: Whatever the reason you're using the U.S. Postal Service to deliver your tax return, you are not forgotten! Here are five tips to make sure that your snail mailed paper tax return makes it to the IRS in good shape and on time.

1. Make sure your post office is open. 
Back in the pre-digital days (yes, youngsters, they existed and many of us survived them!) at least one post office in every town stayed open past its usual closing time on Tax Day. Some of them even had tax return collection parties. No longer.

Check the U.S. Postal Service office locator for the nearest branch and then call it to find out its operating hours on April 15. Make sure you note the time of the last outgoing batch of mail. You want to make sure that your envelope to the IRS bears an April 15 postmark.

2. Mail your return first class. 
Speaking of postmarks, which the IRS recognizes as proof of on-time filing, send your tax return via first-class mail. If you want added assurance, send it certified mail, return receipt requested.

And double check the postage you need. If you're sending a lot of forms, schedules, supporting material to the IRS, it will cost you more than one Forever stamp. So don't be cheap. If your return can't be delivered because of insufficient postage, your return will be late, meaning you'll face late-filing penalties.

3. Send your return to the right IRS office. 
Over the last few years, the IRS has reorganized offices to make more efficient use of personnel. That means some service centers now handle returns from different parts of the country than they did previously. Check the IRS' interactive map to find where to send your 1040.

4. Put your return address on your envelope.
If there's a problem delivering your return, this is the only way you'll get it back. Sure, your filling will be late, but not as late as it might be if there's no return address and it just sits for months (or forever!) in a dead-letter pile. 

5. Be patient.
You might have more tax procrastinating neighbors than you realize. And you all might be in line at the same post office tomorrow. If that's the case, take a deep breath and deal with it graciously. At least you're in the final stretch of filing your taxes.

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