Feature Articles: Taxes
Marriage or Divorce: Check Your Social Security Number on Tax Returns
Reviewed and adapted with special permission from the IRS by: Brenda Procter, M.S., and Debby Whiston, M.S., Consumer and Family Economics, College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri Extension
Newlyweds and the recently divorced should make sure that names on their tax returns match those registered with the Social Security Administration. A mismatch between a name on the tax return and a Social Security number 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 Social Security Administration 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 Social Security Number.
Similarly, after a divorce, a woman who had taken her
husband’s name and had already made that change known to
the Social Security Administration should contact them
if she reassumes a previous name.
It's easy to inform the Social Security
Administration of a name change by filing Form SS-5 at
one of their local offices. 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 Social Security
Administration Web site provides the addresses of local
Generally, taxpayers must provide SSNs for each dependent claimed on the tax return. For adopted children without Social Security Numbers, 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 Social Security Number on the tax return. You can download the form at http://irs.gov or order it by calling the IRS toll free 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676).
- Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card (PDF 100K)
- Social Security Administration
- Form W-7A, Application for Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions (PDF 42K)
Source: IRS Tax Tip 2005-17
Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009