What if the IRS doesn’t have the return you mailed in? | USTaxAid

Diane Kennedy's Blog

What if the IRS doesn’t have the return you mailed in?

Written by Diane Kennedy, CPA on November 23, 2022

The IRS has been pounding it into our heads that we need to efile, not paper file returns. But there are still some forms that you can’t efile. You have no choice; you must mail in your return.

And there are others who just want to mail in their returns because that’s what they’ve always done.

And now we have a problem. The IRS has millions and millions of paper filed returns that haven’t even been opened yet. They are still working on processing returns filed in 2019, over 2 ½ years ago. So, the return you mailed October 2022 is likely going to languish for a very long time before it’s opened.

We’ll start with a “What now?” question.

You’ve mailed your tax return or amended tax return into the IRS. And you haven’t heard anything.

What now?

Well, you either are getting a refund or needed to pay. If you needed to pay, you’ll have proof that they received when the check you included cleared. If you have a refund coming, they’ll either mail you out a check or give you credit for the next year.

If you have a refund, go to irs.gov and check under “Where’s my refund” to see if they have begun to process your return.

The IRS has told us that it will take at least 6 months to process mailed tax returns. If it has been at least 6 months since you mailed your return, and you don’t see your return listed under “Where’s my refund”, the IRS has told us to efile your return.

Do NOT mail it.

If you can’t efile, the only other two options are to wait or to call the IRS. If you call, be prepared to call several times until you get through. It can take days to get in the queue. They also have added a check to make sure they aren’t robo dialers acting as placeholders in the queue. You’ll be asked to repeat some words or a phrase exactly in order to stay on hold.

How Do You File Your 2022 Tax Return?

Sometime in January 2023, the 2022 tax season will begin. How will you file your 2022 tax return?


If for some good reason (like the rare case you can’t efile a particular form that you need), then make sure you mail your return the right way. In the past, we used services like return receipt requested to verify that the envelope was received at the IRS service center.

However, once COVID started in 2020 and centers were shut down, it became more a practice to not sign for envelopes. At that point, the individual mail carrier has a choice.

The envelope can be left without a signature or the envelope can go back with the carrier to be returned to the sender.

And we’ve seen a few centers that sporadically sign for the letters, as they used to do in the past.

Because of the uncertainty, it’s best to not use the return receipt requested service that required the recipient to sign. You’re not sure if the return will be accepted, just left without signature, will be signed for, or just returned back to you. If returned, you will face a late filing penalty.

Here are some better options.

Private Delivery Options

Back in 2016, the IRS issued a special Notice, #2016-30 that would allow private delivery of tax returns and IRS correspondence. DHL Express, FedEx and UPS all have met their requirements. There may be other services as well, but check. The IRS does have specific requirements for carriers.

The delivery services like this are the most reliable and can provide proof of timely mailing. Unfortunately, they are also the most expensive option. If you do use them, make sure you check the option that allows the envelope to be left without a signature.

IRS Proof of Mailing

The Post Office does provide a certificate of mailing that does not require signature and they say that this is adequate proof for tax documents. Back in 1984, the IRS said that this certificate was not sufficient proof. However, we had other mail options back then because the IRS did sign for “return receipt requested” envelopes.

Keep Up-To-Date on Tax Law

Tax law is changing and the IRS is not very helpful. Make sure you’re signed up for the FREE Tax Updates to get alerts for tax strategies and law changes.

If you want to learn more, check out Wednesday Coaching. We meet on the 1st – 4th Wednesdays at 5 pm Pacific to answer member questions, to cover tax saving, cash flow creations and wealth building strategies for real estate investors and business owners

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