Name Changes May Affect Taxes

Name changes often come with many significant life changes – marriage, divorce, or a new name approved by a court order. In addition, your dependent may have a name change if he or she is adopted and takes your name. While paperwork may be the last thing on your mind amid these changes, notifying the Social Security Administration of your name change should be at the top of your list. All the names on your tax return must match with one Social Security Number (SSN). If you file tax forms with a name not connected to an SSN, then an expected tax refund may be delayed. Another issue in delaying is that wages you earn under the new name may not be posted correctly for future Social Security benefits.

For current U.S. citizens, to change your or your dependent’s name with the Social Security Administration, you must file a form (SS-5) either in person or by mail with proof of the name change. Proof documents include marriage certificate, divorce decree, court order approving the name change, or a Certificate of Naturalization with the new name. You will also need proof of identity, such as a U.S. passport, U.S. driver’s license, or a state-issued identification card.

You should receive a new card in the mail within about 10 days after applying. The new card will have your old number with your new name.

Adopted children without an SSN

Certain circumstances defy the presence of an SSN for an adopted child, such as: the adoption may not yet be final, or there are issues getting the SSN from the birthparents. In that case, to claim the child as a dependent on a federal tax return, the taxpayer may request a temporary number, called an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN). File Form W-7A, Application for Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions, with the IRS. The temporary number is only valid for up to two years. Once an adoption is final, the parents must obtain an SSN.

Life changes may also affect your taxes with regard to withholding amounts going forward. If you have questions, please talk with a Salmon Sims Thomas tax advisor.