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Here’s how a name change affects a tax return

IRS Tax Tip 2019-18, March 5, 2019

When someone legally changes their name, there are tax consequences they need to know about, especially at tax time. People change their names for several reasons:

  • Taking their spouse’s last name after a marriage
  • Hyphenating their last name with their spouse’s after getting married
  • Going back to their former name after a divorce
  • Giving an adopted child the last name of their new family

The IRS wants people experiencing a name change to remember these important things:

Reporting change to SSA. Taxpayers should notify the Social Security Administration of a name change ASAP. When a taxpayer files their taxes, the IRS checks SSA records to ensure names and social security numbers on the forms match.

Failing to report a name change. If a name on a taxpayer’s tax return doesn’t match SSA records, it can delay the IRS processing of that return. In that case, if the taxpayer is due a refund, it will take longer for them to get their money.

Name Change Due to Adoption. In the case of an adoption, if the child has a Social Security number, the taxpayer should be sure to inform the SSA of a name change. If the child does not have a Social Security number, the taxpayer may use an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number on their tax return. An ATIN is a temporary number. Taxpayers can apply for an ATIN by filing Form W-7A, Application for Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions. Taxpayers file this form with the IRS.

Getting a New SS Card. After a name change, a taxpayer should file Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. The form is available on SSA.gov or by calling 800-772-1213. The taxpayer’s new Social Security card will reflect the name change.

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