The chances of a tax return being lost in the mail or, upon receipt, lost or misplaced by the Internal Revenue Service are rare. While remote, the possibility of the return being lost does exist and could happen. Self-employed persons could end up facing accusations of "failure to file" if there is no record of a submitted tax return. As time passes, the IRS may file a "substitute for a return" on the taxpayer's behalf based on reported 1099 forms. Various penalties could be imposed if this scenario plays out. To reduce the chances of dealing with collection and filing-related drama, you should consider taking certain actions with the help of an accountant.

Submit an Extension and File on Time

One proactive step would be to have a CPA file an extension request. Procuring an extension on a tax return filing requires submitting a Form 4868. April 15th is, not surprisingly, the cut-off date for submitting the extension, and the due date to submit the return is extended six months. This does not mean you are now required to submit the return after the due date. The return can be submitted on-time even when an extension is requested.

The reason filing an extension request is helpful is doing so provides a fail-safe in case the return is lost. If five months go by and no return shows up, a new return may be filed without the imposition of a failure to file by the due date penalty. Perhaps filing the extension and the return in March or earlier would be an even better plan than waiting until April 15.

Keep Receipts and Records of the Mailing

Putting a stamp on the envelope with the return and extension and mailing the documents off to the IRS first class is a risk. With no documentation of the actual mailing to prove you filed on time or requested an extension becomes difficult. Sending a certified letter or one with delivery tracking is recommended. Get a receipt from the post office and place it in your accounting files. Those who are highly diligent could photocopy the stamped envelope and keep a copy for their records. Doing so supports any claims that mailings were sent to the IRS. Such evidence becomes helpful if you are accused of not filing.

Send a Follow-Up Letter

After waiting the normal amount of processing time and no return turns up, ask a professional CPA, like those at Amos Maney & Payne CPA's LLC, to send a letter asking the IRS if a second copy of the return should be filed. The IRS may be backlogged, and you do not want to prematurely submit a duplicate return, as this could further complicate processing.