What to Know About Filing Taxes With a Maiden Name & What it Means For Your Taxes? - Tax Professionals Member Article By Pat Raskob
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What to Know About Filing Taxes With a Maiden Name & What it Means For Your Taxes?

What to Know About Filing Taxes With a Maiden Name & What it Means For Your Taxes?

Tax filing after a name change can raise many questions. If you've ever changed your legal name, you know you need to notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) to make it official. But the IRS differs from the SSA, so why do they care about your name? Find out why it's important to include the correct name on your tax return and what to do when you file.


Why your name matters for taxes

Although the Social Security Administration and the IRS are completely separate, the IRS uses your Social Security Number (SSN) to ensure that the information on your tax return is correct. If the name and number on file do not match, it may delay your refund. For this reason, the name on the tax return must match the name associated with the SSN.


How to change the name

To officially change your name, you must submit Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. You can find this form and instructions online at SSA.gov.


What name appears on my tax return if I haven't officially changed my name yet?

On your tax return, you must always list your name exactly as it appears on your current Social Security card.

If you just got married but have not officially changed your name yet, enter your name as it now appears on your Social Security card. Note: Even if your surnames do not match, you and your spouse do not need to file as single. Your new filing status changes to married filing jointly or separately. When you get married before December 31 of the current tax year, the IRS considers you married for the entire year for tax purposes.


If you recently or have just changed your name

Generally, you should wait at least ten days after the Social Security Administration changes its records before filing your tax return. This allows enough time to change your name in all databases used by the IRS when verifying your information.


If your W-2 is in your former or maiden name

A tax professional should be able to use your Social Security number to match your W-2 with your return so that if you've already notified the Social Security Administration of your name change, you can go ahead and file under your new name. But let your employer know about your name change and make sure they correct your information for the following year.


If your dependent's name changed

The same general information applies here: the social security administration must be informed first. If the dependent is a minor, you will complete their name change application. The name you use to claim the dependent on your tax return must match the name on your SSN card.

Suppose you have adopted a child whose name has not officially become yours when you need to file. In that case, you can apply for a Temporary Adoption Tax Identification Number (ATIN) from the IRS. You will use Form W-7A, Taxpayer Identification Number Application for Pending Adoptions in the United States, available on the IRS website. If you are adopting a non-US citizen child, you can obtain tax identification for the child using IRS Form W-7, Request for Individual Tax Identification.


If you were recently divorced.

It is important to update your name and personal information after your divorce. You will also need to consider factors such as your marital status, W-4 deductions, and possibly even alimony or child support payments.


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Pat Raskob
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