We’re so often wrapped up in our new love (and all of the other wedding planning details), that taxes and our social security numbers are the furthest thing from our mind. The same can be said if, unfortunately, the marriage doesn’t work out and we’re thinking of how to get divorced. However, the name and social security number we use to file our taxes is essential to getting filings correct, so when they change, so must our filings. Here is a quick introduction on how your name change can affect your tax filings, and how to change your name to ensure you’re filing correctly.
How Your Name Affects Your Tax Filings
There can be benefits from filing a joint tax return with your new spouse. At the same time, you may not want to split your tax return with your new ex. Newlyweds and the recently divorced should make sure that names on their tax returns match those registered with the Social Security Administration (SSA). A mismatch between a name on the tax return and a Social Security number (SSN) could unexpectedly increase a tax bill or reduce the size of any refund.
For newlyweds, the tax scenario can begin when the bride says "I do" and takes her husband's surname, but doesn't tell the SSA about the name change. If the couple files a joint tax return with her new name, the IRS computers will not be able to match the new name with the SSN. Similarly, after a divorce, a woman who took her husband's name and made that change known to the SSA should contact the SSA if she reassumes a previous name.
How To Change Your Name
Whether you are changing your name after marriage or after a divorce, it's easy to inform the SSA of a name change by filing Form SS-5 at a local SSA office. It usually takes two weeks to have the change verified. The form is available on the agency's Web site, by calling toll free 1-800-772-1213, and at local offices. The SSA Web site provides the addresses of local offices.
Generally, taxpayers must provide SSNs for each dependent claimed on the tax return. For adopted children without SSNs, the parents can apply for an adoption taxpayer identification number, or ATIN, by filing Form W-7A with the IRS. The ATIN is used in place of the SSN on the tax return. You can download the form or order it by calling the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) toll free at 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676).
You can also find more introductory information on these topics in FindLaw’s marriage and divorce sections. For help with tax questions, you can ask a tax attorney in your area, or peruse FindLaw’s tax law section.
Learn More About Marriage, Divorce, and Taxes: Call an Attorney
There are a lot of legal considerations required when navigating our way into and out of marriage. Taxes, tax filings, and your Social Security number are big parts of that. Consulting with an experienced, local divorce attorney can help you understand the process and better protect your rights.