What’s In a Name? Name Changes for Taxpayers



If you’ve changed your name for any reason, chances are you’ve covered all your bases: employment records, school records, DMV records, and your health care records. Don’t stop there: be sure to advise the IRS of your new surname in order to avoid any last-minute delays in filing your tax return.

How It’s Done:

Since the IRS relies on Social Security Administration (SSA) records when verifying your name on your tax returns, you’ll need to update your SSA records with your new last name. You’ll need to complete form SS-5, “Application for a Social Security Card.” Fill it out, drop it in the mail, or head to your local SSA office and drop off the form there.

It will take a few weeks for the changes to appear in your SSA records, so it’s a good idea to take care of the name change with the SSA as soon as possible to avoid any delays in processing your return. If the IRS notices a discrepancy between the name on their records and SSA records, your return will be rejected if you filed it electronically.

Adopting A Child:

You’ll need to do the same if your new family member already has a Social Security Number (SSN). If they don’t, you’ll need to obtain an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN). You’ll need to complete IRS form W-7A and submit it to the IRS.  You can then use the ATIN to claim your child as a dependent on your tax returns until you can get a Social Security Number for him or her.

Life changes can also mean name changes. Don’t neglect to update the SSA with your new name, or you could end up tangling with the IRS over a delayed or incorrect tax return. Life is hectic enough; don’t let a delayed tax return add to the mix. Take care of your name change early, and you’ll be in the clear come tax day.


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