I have a 12 page return and I have a number or pre-stamped envelopes. I read that I should only put 3-4 pages in each envelope.

Can I submit them in multiple envelopes?

  • 2
    What country is that?
    – littleadv
    Mar 21, 2022 at 22:14
  • 8
    If it's too long to fit in a normal letter envelope, get a 8.5x11" manila envelope (you'll find these at any office supply store, and they can take dozens of pages) or one of the USPS's flat rate priority mail cardboard mailers (store.usps.com/store/product/shipping-supplies/…).
    – ceejayoz
    Mar 22, 2022 at 0:18
  • 9
    Why are you still submitting your tax return on paper? Most forms can be submitted electtronically these days.
    – Barmar
    Mar 22, 2022 at 14:22
  • 4
    Important distinction: 'can do X' vs. 'I will like the results I get if I do X'. Strongly recommend getting a larger envelope and either more stamps or put postage on at the Post Office, and using a single envelope so the entire return arrives on one agent's desk at one time, vs. being distributed among perhaps different buildings on different days. Mar 24, 2022 at 1:26
  • 3
    It's likely going to the post office and spending $5-$10 on a proper envelope and postage would be money well spent; rather than fighting the state later about your missing/delayed return.
    – spuck
    Mar 24, 2022 at 20:31

3 Answers 3


Your entire return needs to be in one envelope. The IRS has a hard enough time dealing with a return in one envelope; there is no way they will be able to process a return that is split into multiple envelopes.

If you have any more than a couple of pages, a business-sized envelope with your return folded inside just won’t work. You’ll need a full-sized manila envelope that you can slide your return into without folding.

  • 10
    The IRS is actually pretty particular in how it wants the returns. The schedules and forms have an order in which they need to be attached. Look at the forms - in the top right corner, under the year, there's "attachment sequence". Forms should be stacked in the sequence printed.
    – littleadv
    Mar 22, 2022 at 4:35
  • 4
    The OP is asking about state income tax, not a Federal return.
    – spuck
    Mar 24, 2022 at 20:31
  • 4
    Unfortunately OP's question shifted after this was written, but it's still very relevant even if the target is "state" not "Federal".
    – Joe
    Mar 24, 2022 at 21:24
  • 3
    Keep in mind that a full-sized envelope with 12+ pages will require more than one standard stamp. If you take it to the post office, they can weigh it and sell you the proper amount of postage. Mar 24, 2022 at 23:15

The key is to understand how these forms are processed. They aren't going onto one person's desk to file things by taxpayer. Rather, they are opened in large quantities and typically checks will be separated for processing and everything else scanned in to a computer system. Actually, they may scan the checks too as they can now be processed fully electronically. The first page will determine the taxpayer ID (typically social security number) and that will tie everything together as it gets processed by various automated and, if needed, human means.

If you send papers in two separate envelopes:

  • They may or may not show up together. They might even arrive on different days, even though you put them in a mailbox or handed them to a postal clerk together. The people and systems processing each envelope won't know that the two envelopes go together.
  • While most forms will have your social security number on each page, that is not 100% guaranteed. If the first page of the second envelope doesn't have the social security number on it, manual intervention would be required to figure out what to do.
  • If one of the envelopes never arrives, or arrives past the filing deadline, you have even more complications. With a single envelope you can pay for tracking or other methods to make sure you know that it was delivered to the right place and when it was delivered. If you use multiple envelopes that cost multiplies, quickly surpassing any savings on envelopes and basic postage.

In the US, generally a tax return is not very large. The Federal return for example (form 1040) is 2 pages long. You didn't say which State that is, but I'm not aware of any State where the tax return is 12 pages long.

However.... Most returns will come with additional forms and schedules to substantiate and explain lines on the return itself.

For example, the California tax return (Form 540) is 5 pages long and is the longest State return I've seen in the US (although I haven't seen every State's returns...). But, most people need to attach some schedules to it (Schedule CA is almost universal), which makes the total package much larger.

All the forms and schedules attached to your return should be... well... Attached to your return. No-one will keep parts of your return on their desk until all of them arrive.

So no, you should not split your 12 pages into different envelopes.

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