A Transmitter may provide an electronic postmark to taxpayers that file Individual Income Tax Returns and Extensions of Time to File Individual Income Tax Returns, through an ERO or through Online Filing. The Transmitter creates the electronic postmark bearing the date and time (in the Transmitter's time zone) that the return is received at the Transmitter's host computer. The taxpayer must adjust the electronic postmark to the time zone where the taxpayer resides to determine the postmark’s actual time. For example, if the Transmitter provides an electronic postmark with a time in the Pacific Time Zone but the taxpayer resides in the Eastern Time Zone, the taxpayer must add three hours to the postmark time to determine the actual postmark time (Eastern Time Zone).
If the electronic postmark is on or before the prescribed deadline for filing, but the IRS receives the return after the prescribed deadline for filing, the IRS treats the return as timely filed. In order for the IRS to treat a return as timely filed, based on the electronic postmark's date, the taxpayer must meet all requirements for signing the return and when applicable, mailing Form 8453 with supporting documents not included in the electronic record. If the electronic postmark is after the prescribed deadline for filing, the IRS actual receipt date, not the date of the electronic postmark, is the filing date. If the IRS rejects a return, the taxpayer must file a corrected return in accordance with the rules for timely filing corrected returns after rejection of an electronic return.
The IRS authorizes a Transmitter to provide an electronic postmark if the Transmitter:
- Creates an electronic postmark bearing the date and time (in the Transmitter's time zone) the return was received by the Transmitter's host system;
- Provides the electronic postmark to the taxpayer or the ERO no later than when the acknowledgment is made available to the taxpayer in a format that precludes alteration and manipulation of the electronic postmark information;
- Provides the same electronic postmark data to the IRS in the electronic record of the return;
- Provides taxpayers with an explanation of the electronic postmark and when the IRS treats the electronic postmark as the filing date;
- Refrains from using terms that currently have specific meaning in the postal industry such as "certified" or "registered" and similar terms, and from using "Internal Revenue Service", "IRS" or "Federal" as a definer of the electronic postmark when discussing the electronic postmark , including in all advertising, product packaging, articles, press releases and other presentations;
- Retains a record of each electronic postmark until the end of the calendar year and provides the record to the IRS upon request;
- Transmits all tax returns and extensions of time to file that received an electronic postmark to the IRS within two days of receipt from the ERO or from the taxpayer in the case of Online Filing; and
- Retains the original electronic postmark of the rejected return for a corrected return that the Transmitter received through the last date for retransmitting rejected returns and creates a new postmark for all returns, including corrected returns received after the last date for retransmitting returns. All corrected returns retaining an electronic postmark of a date through the prescribed last day of filing must be transmitted to the IRS within two days of the date the return was received by the Transmitter or the twenty second day of the respective month of the prescribed due date, whichever is earlier.