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What Happens If I Forget To Sign My Tax Return?

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I was doing some research about boneheaded tax preparation mistakes when I stumbled upon a common question – what happens if I forget to sign my tax return?

According to the IRS, your return is not considered a valid return unless you sign it. If it’s a joint return, your spouse will also have to sign it. If you forget to sign it, the IRS will mail you a letter requesting you (and your spouse, if necessary) to sign that document before they will process the return. I don’t know if that will result in any penalties or fees should you file late but since it shouldn’t affect the math on the return, any taxes due (or tax refund due) will not change.

If you sent in your taxes early and forgot to sign, you could always request an extension using Form 4868. This would push your tax return due date out to October and you’ll definitely get that substitute form in time and avoid any late filing penalties.

This is just another reason why you should e-file your tax return!

{ 11 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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11 Responses to “What Happens If I Forget To Sign My Tax Return?”

  1. Mike says:

    Do people actually forget to sign their taxes?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes. I have e-filed for years! Had to file a paper return this year due to adoption credit. And, yes, I forgot to sign my return after printing them off the same e-file program I’ve used for years!
      +++++
      It could happen!!!!!

      • ash says:

        So what happened? I did the exact same thing only mine were amended returns.. Did they send you a letter? ‘m thinking of printing again, signing and sending them back in?

  2. Dean says:

    Sheepishly, I’ll admit to this happening at least once, might have even been twice. I took the PDF file to work to print on the nice laser printer instead of my cheap, slow inkjet, thinking I’m doing a good thing. Get in the groove of getting the envelope ready, and next thing you know, it’s in the mail slot!

    They send a letter with a form that needs your signature. When it comes in the mail from the IRS, it’s certainly a heart-stopper.

    No penalties, even if the delay takes you past April 15th, at least in my case a few years ago. But your refund may be delayed (if that was the case).

  3. Scott says:

    Don’t know for sure, but I bet the IRS will still promptly cash your check even if you forget to sign your return and have to correct it.

  4. Joan says:

    If you did owe on your tax return you would have made payment with the return when you filed it. Or, if you didn’t have the money you would owe the tax. Penalty is only due if you owe tax. So, if you don’t owe tax, no penalty. If you paid with the unsigned return, it’s paid, no penalty. If you filed without paying, well….

  5. I’m an e-filer all the way, haven’t phsyically mailed a form in since 2006 or so. Good pointer though, I’ll tweet this out to our followers to make sure they get it as well :)

  6. Anonymous says:

    I don’t think so… Bank prefer to use your driver license card for match tax refund check then you signature in bank then get money or deposit.

    There have more security.

  7. Shirley says:

    E-filing is definitely the way to go. ;-)

  8. Dave says:

    Thanks for the info, I e-filed last year, but due to a screwup with the way they process HSAs, I had to paper file this year.

    So it’s me, I’m the guy who forgot to sign his tax return.

  9. Michael says:

    I live outside the USA so can’t e-file due to having to file a 2555. Cleaning off my desk April 25, ready to archive the copies of the return I sent in on time–yep, the copies are signed and dated, and I’m preeeeetty sure we didn’t sign both the copies and the original. Though the most likely unsigned return I sent was on time, it wasn’t by much, so I’m hoping it still counts as being before the deadline while fixing the signature situation.


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