How Changing Your Name Affects Your Tax Filing

hello name tag with red sharpie

It's tax time again, but there's something very different this year: someone's name has changed in your family. It could be because of a marriage, divorce, or your child's adoption. With a name change, it's important to take the following steps to ensure your tax return is accepted and processed without issue by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

  • Get a corrected social security card from the Social Security Administration (SSA). It's important not to skip this step because when you file your taxes, the IRS crosschecks SSA records for matching names and social security numbers. If you skip this step, the IRS may delay processing of your return, which can hold up your refund if you're due one. You'll need to pull together the required documents to prove your identity, fill out and print Form SS-5 Application for a Social Security Card, and take or mail your application and documents to your local SSA office. Unfortunately, you cannot do this online but the good news: it's free!
  • Apply for a Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN) if your adopted child does not yet have a social security number. This temporary number will be given to you after you file Form W-7A, Application for Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions with the IRS.
  • Inform the post office of a name change. It isn't absolutely required, but it can be a good idea if you would like some extra assurance knowing your refund check in your new name will appear in your mailbox. While the USPS doesn't have an official name change form, you can make the change on their change of address form. Note there's a $1.05 fee to make the change online; if you fill out the form at your local post office and show your id there, there's no charge.

Changing your name (and back again!) can be a hassle, but luckily, the process is pretty straightforward tax-wise.

 

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About Author

Diana Burrell
Diana Burrell

Diana Burrell is the communications manager at Hanscom FCU and edits the MoneyWisdom blog. She has a background in magazine journalism, as well as marketing, advertising, and public relations, and has written over a dozen books. You can reach her at dburrell@hfcu.org.

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