Name Changes and the IRS

No filing with the IRS is required but you do need to get a new Social Security card to avoid problems at tax-time.

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Do you need to notify the IRS if you change your name? No, but you do need to notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) and obtain a new Social Security card before you file your taxes with the IRS. The SSA will issue a new Social Security card with your new name, but will keep your old Social Security number. This way, the name on your tax return will match Social Security records. If your name and Social Security number don't match, the IRS will flag your return and require that the error be corrected. This could delay any refund you are owed.

For these purposes, a name change includes:

  • using your spouse’s last name after you get married
  • adding a hyphen to your last name
  • getting divorced and using your former last name, and
  • changing your name through a court petition.

It's easy to let the SSA know about your name change and get a new Social Security card. All you need to do is file Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card, at your local SSA office or by mail with proof of your legal name change. You can get Form SS-5 from the SSA’s website at www.ssa.gov, by calling 800-772-1213, or at local SSA offices.

Documents the SSA accepts to prove a legal name change include a:

  • marriage document
  • divorce decree
  • certificate of naturalization showing a new name, or
  • court order for a name change.

In addition to your name, these documents also must contain identifying information or a recent photograph. If your documents lack such information, you can provide your U.S. driver’s license, state-issued nondriver’s identification card, or U.S. passport.

All documents must be either originals or certified copies by the issuing agency. The SSA does not accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. Any documents you mail to the SSA will be returned to you with a receipt.

If you adopted your new spouse’s children and their names changed, you'll need to update their names with SSA too. For adopted children without Social Security numbers, the parents can apply for an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number by filing Form W-7A, Application for Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions, with the IRS. The ATIN is a temporary number used in place of a Social Security number on the tax return. Form W-7A is available on the IRS.gov website or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

 March 2013

by: , J.D.

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