Because of my immigration status in the US, I have to paper-file my tax form 1040NR-EZ. Then I lost my USPS tracking number and IRS's Where's My Refund doesn't have my info. Should I file an extension before April 15? Is there any drawback from filing an extension if IRS has already received my tax form but not processed it yet?

  • How long ago did you send it in?
    – Ben Miller
    Apr 12, 2016 at 17:28
  • I mailed in around Mar 15. IRS website says it may take up to 6 weeks but that will be after April 15.
    – puri
    Apr 12, 2016 at 17:31
  • 5
    That sounds like a bad idea to me, as they'll get the extension after they receive your completed return. Call the IRS @ 800-TAX-1040 and see what they recommend. Were it me, I would just chillax - it's unlikely the IRS didn't receive your return.
    – Todd
    Apr 12, 2016 at 18:02
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    You're almost certainly safe; USPS does a good job of delivering mail. But as you are due a refund (i.e. overpaid), even if they do somehow manage to lose or destroy your return you can just file another copy up until April 2019 with no penalty. Apr 12, 2016 at 22:08
  • Quick observation,: if you are going to worry about whether delivery occurred, the US postal service offers several options that give you receipts proving that you mailed something to a particular address on a specific date, or that deliver a receipt back to you proving that it reached that address or that it's delivery was acknowledged by the recipient. Those receipts can be used as evidence that you submitted the forms on time, if necessary. I don't usually feel a need for that proof, but it's worth knowing the option exists, and it can be done less expensively than paying for Priority Mail
    – keshlam
    Jan 8, 2017 at 5:04

3 Answers 3


There is supposedly an online service offered by the IRS that will tell you if they have received your form. In not 100% sure it works with paper filings, but that's what I'd suggest investigating if you need reassurance. There's an IRS-to go application, or a "where's my refund" web tool. See https://www.irs.gov/Individuals

  • 1
    I tried Where's My Refund but there's no info.
    – puri
    Apr 12, 2016 at 19:15
  • 2
    When I had to amend one year, that site took about nine weeks to update after USPS said they had received it. Apr 13, 2016 at 0:45
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    Paper reaching them, and the envelope being opened and scanned into the database, may be very different. And that difference is much worse the later you file, since their backlog gets worse as volume increases. Don't expect them to acknowledge receipt until that second hurdle has been passed. Electronic filing's biggest advantage may be that since it goes directly into their databases, they can confirm receipt within a few days.
    – keshlam
    Apr 13, 2016 at 0:54

Any paper returns postmarked on or before the official filing date are not considered late. That being said, it's common practice to send returns via registered mail with some form of delivery confirmation. This is so that, should some IRS technician accidentally drop your return in the shredder (or any other unforeseen mishap), that you have some evidence in your defense when they come after you. Most of the time though (in 99.9999% of occurrences), such steps are not needed because everything shows up in the official records, even if it seems to move at a glacial pace.

If I were in your situation, I'd set a calendar reminder to log in on April 15th to check for "received" or "accepted" status, and then not think about it again until that date. If the return is not shown online on that date, then you still have time to call the IRS, file an extension, and even start going about recreating your paper documents.

  • 1
    Certified gives same proof of delivery cheaper. Registered is only worth it for things that can't be replaced, which a tax return can. Although a first year nonresident may need to file W-7 and include passport or other valuable documents as evidence and that could justify registered. Apr 12, 2018 at 0:20

If IRS received your paper return, but they haven't processed it yet, there is no confirmation.

With IRS understaffed, it can take a while to process paper returns. So, to be on the safe side, you might want to file for extension.

You should be able to do it online. Check here: https://www.irs.gov/filing/extension-of-time-to-file-your-tax-return

Filing for extension won't cause any problems - if IRS receives your paper return on time, they will ignore extension request.

  • Was my answer downvoted because it was too short? I elaborated it - is it better now? Mar 27, 2017 at 18:32
  • and after I elaborated my answer I received another downvote? Can someone please explain what you don't like about my answer? Mar 28, 2017 at 15:02
  • I don't understand it either. I have upvoted. It seems the commonsense approach. Mar 28, 2018 at 18:52

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