According to Legal Zoom, individuals change their name for a variety of reasons, including taking on the name of a spouse, hyphenating their last name to join with a partner or changing it to a more desirable name simply because they don't like their given name. No matter the reason, you'll need to make sure the proper agencies are notified of this change. If your legal name doesn't match that with the name you submit to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on your tax return, the return will be rejected.
Who Needs to Know?
You may be wondering, "How do I notify the IRS of a name change?" The answer to this and other IRS name change questions is you don't. The IRS checks the names on submitted tax returns with the Social Security Administration (SSA), so before you file your taxes with the new name, you must first establish the name with the SSA. This includes any name changes of any dependent children due to adoption or other circumstances that you plan to claim on your tax return as well.
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Submit Form SSA-5
Instead of making an IRS name change, you'll need to download and print Form SSA-5: Application for a Social Security Card. You can also call an SSA representative at 800-772-1213 to request the form be sent to you in the mail. Individuals who are age 12 or older who have never received a Social Security number will need to complete the application and then make an appointment to submit it in person.
To complete Form SSA-5, you will need to use either black or blue ink (no pencils) and make sure each letter is legible, otherwise, you may end up with a misspelled name. The following information is required on the form:
- Desired name
- Full name at birth
- Social Security number
- Place of birth
- Mother's name at her birth
- Mother's Social Security number
- Father's name
- Father's Social Security number
- Name shown on the most recent Social Security card
- Mailing address and phone number
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Include Your Original Documents
Once you fill out Form SSA-5, you must mail or hand-deliver it with all of your original documents. The organization will mail back all of your originals after they have reviewed and processed your name change. The documents required include:
- One document proving your identity for replacement cards
- Two documents proving your identity for original cards
- Documents to support the requested change (marriage certificate, court records)
- Evidence of age, citizenship or immigration status
Mail your completed form and all original documents to the Social Security office that serves your county. The Social Security Administration has an online Office Locator tool you can use if you are unsure as to the closest office in your area. Simply type in your zip code and click the gray "Locate" button. An address and phone number will pop up on your screen.
Call the number if you have any questions. If you don't, go ahead and address your envelope with the information provided.
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IRS Name Changes: Businesses
Unlike individual taxpayers, businesses do need to contact the IRS directly to report a name change. How you go about this is dependent upon whether you are classified as a sole proprietor, corporation or partnership. Sole proprietors simply need to write a letter notifying the IRS of the change and mail it to the same address they submit their return to. The letter must be signed by either the business owner or an authorized representative.
Corporations and partnerships that have already filed their taxes can follow the same steps as the sole proprietor above. Otherwise, corporations can mark the IRS name change box on Form 1120 (Page 1, Line E, Box 3) or Form 1120-S (Page 1, Line H, Box 2) when filling out their tax return. Partnerships can mark the IRS name change box on Form 1065 (Page 1, Line G, Box 3). There will be a space next to the box to add the new name.