Taxing Lessons Case Summaries

Case — Timely Filing

Thanks for sharing!
3 minute read

TL Case Summ


Does a petition mailed from a foreign country need a US postmark to prove timely filing?


Taxpayer Says: The petition was filed from Canada using registered mail before the due date and was timely.

Internal Revenue Service Says: The petition was not deposited in the mail in the United States on or before the due date, and it was not received until after the due date. The petition was not timely filed.


From Internal Revenue Code Section 7502(a): Provides that a petition that is timely mailed is, in certain circumstances, deemed to be timely filed. Specifically, Sec. 7502(a)(1) provides that “the date of the United States postmark stamped on the cover in which such * * * document * * * is mailed shall be deemed to be the date of delivery”.

From Internal Revenue Code Section 7502(b): Provides that section 7502 “shall apply in the case of postmarks not made by the United States Postal Service only if and to the extent provided by regulations”.

From Internal Revenue Procedure and Administration Regulations Section 301.7502-1(c)(1)(ii): A document is deposited in the mail in the United States when it is deposited with the domestic mail service of the US Postal Service.

From Section 752.13 of the U.S. Postal Service International Mail Manual, Issue 37, June 7, 2010: States with regard to foreign registered mail: “All mail registered by the country of origin must be handled in the domestic First-Class Mail mailstream from the exchange office to the office of delivery.” Thus, once the foreign registered mail arrives at the exchange office, such mail is considered to have been deposited with the domestic mail service of the US Postal Service for eventual delivery to its destination address.


If you’ve ever mailed your personal tax return on April 15, you’ve taken advantage of the timely mailing/timely filing rules of code section 7502. These rules establish when tax returns and other items you mail are considered to be filed on time, and state that timely mailing, as evidenced by a legible postmark, is generally deemed to be timely filing.

In this case, the taxpayer mailed a petition from Canada five days before the due date via Canada’s registered mail. According to the tracking records of the Canadian postal service and the US postal service, the petition arrived Los Angeles, CA the next day, and in Washington DC ten days later, which was after the “last day to file” date.

The taxpayer says that because the records show the petition was mailed prior to the due date, it must have entered the US postal service system at some point on or before the due date, making the filing timely.

The IRS says the petition had no US postmark, which means the date of filing cannot be established. In addition, since a US postmark was omitted, no other evidence can be used as proof of timely mailing or filing. The petition was received after the due date and was therefore filed late.


Make your selection, then see “The Court’s Decision” below for a full explanation

For the or for the


Download (PDF, 19KB)


HL Carpenter, an experienced investor and a CPA, specializes in reader friendly articles on taxes and investing for individuals and small businesses, and publishes two newsletters: Taxing Lessons and Top Drawer Ink. Visit and

This information should not be considered legal, investment or tax advice. Taxing Lessons and Top Drawer Ink Corp. do not provide legal, investment or tax advice. Always consult your legal, investment and/or tax advisor regarding your personal situation.


Other posts you might enjoy

Decisions — Taxing choices Image source: Free Picture © Semen Barkovskiy Dreamstime Stock Photos   How many options can you consider before you find yourself longing for simplicity? Whatever your answer, part of the desire for less complexity comes from not wanting to make the wrong choice. That's especially true ...
Decisions — Where’s your refund? Image source: By U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons Where's your refund? Possibly helping to reduce the federal budget deficit, if you failed to file a return to get an overpayment back within the applicable time period. That's because the gov...
Case — Fun and games Image source: (public domain image) THE QUESTION Does an organization that offers a recreational activity to achieve a charitable purpose qualify as a charitable organization? THE DISPUTE Taxpayer Says: It operates for charitable purposes because it provides relief for the p...
Case — Carry On THE QUESTION Can an IRA deduction that is disallowed due to active participant status in an employer plan be carried forward and deducted in a future year? THE DISPUTE Taxpayer Says: The 2008 IRA contribution was an “excess contribution” and should be allowable as a deduction in 2010. Intern...
Right answer!
Sorry, wrong answer :(
For the taxpayer. The petition in this case was mailed by registered mail from a foreign country well before the last day of the filing period; the petition entered the domestic mail service of the United States before such last day; and such date of entry is demonstrated by the official records of the U.S. Postal Service. The petition in this case was timely filed.