Name Changes and the IRS - 5 Things You Should Know

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When you get married or divorced, or you change your name for any other reason, you have to change your name on checking accounts, retirement accounts, your driver's license, and so on. While you're doing all this paperwork, remember to also change your name with the Social Security Administration.

Here are five things you should know about changing your name:

  1. You do not have to report your name change directly to the IRS. However, it's important to report it to the Social Security Administration (SSA) before you file your tax return.

    You can change your name by mail or go to your local Social Security office. The Social Security Administration updates records of names, a process than can take some time.

  2. You may encounter problems if you don't report a name change.

    If you file your tax return with a name that does not exactly match the name on your Social Security card, the processing of your return may be delayed. The IRS will not accept an electronically filed return if the name and Social Security number do not match their records. If you're expecting a tax refund, that can mean a longer wait for your money.

    Changing your name with the SSA also helps safeguard your future Social Security benefits by assuring proper posting of earnings to your records.

  3. You must have proper documentation to change your name.

    This can be an original or certified copy of one of the following:

    • Marriage document
    • Divorce decree
    • Certificate of naturalization showing a new name
    • Court order for a name change

    In addition, you need two separate documents with identifying information or a recent photograph, such as a driver's license or passport.

  4. You must also notify the Social Security Administration if you change a child's name.

    For example, if you adopt a child, or if the child takes the name of a stepparent, you should report the name before you file your return. Otherwise, you may not be able to claim the child as your dependent.

    If you are not allowed to claim the child as a dependent because the child's name and Social Security number do not match, you could miss out on other tax benefits, such as education credits or the Child and Dependent Care Credit. You also will not be allowed to claim the Child Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit for the child.

  5. Use Form SS-5 to change your name with the Social Security Administration.

    You can get this form on the Social Security website at ssa.gov.

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Upcoming Tax Dates

January 1 — Everyone
Federal Holiday (New Year's Day) Details

January 10 — Employees who work for tips
If you received $20 or more in tips during December, report them to your employer Details

January 15 — Individuals
Make a payment of your estimated tax for 2018 if you did not pay your income tax for the year through withholding (or did not pay in enough tax that way). Use Form 1040-ES Details

January 15 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in December 2018

January 15 — Farmers & fishermen
Pay your estimated tax for 2018 using Form 1040-ES Details

January 21 — Everyone
Federal Holiday (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) Details

January 31 — All Employers
Give your employees their copies of Form W2 for 2018. If an employee agreed to receive Form W2 electronically, have it posted on a website and notify the employee of the posting.

January 31 — Individuals who must make estimated tax payments
If you did not pay your last installment of estimated tax by January 15, you may choose (but are not required) to file your income tax return (Form 1040) for 2017 by January 31. Filing your return and paying any tax due by January 31 prevents any penalty for late payment of the last installment. If you cannot file and pay your tax by January 31, file and pay your tax by April 15.

January 31 — Payers of gambling winnings
If you either paid reportable gambling winnings or withheld income tax from gambling winnings, give the winners their copies of Form W2G.

January 31 — Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
File Form 941 for the fourth quarter of 2018. Deposit or pay any undeposited tax under the accuracy of deposit rules. If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return. If you deposited the tax for the quarter timely, properly, and in full, you have until 02-10 to file the return.

January 31 — Certain small employers
File Form 944 to report social security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2018. Deposit or pay any undeposited tax under the accuracy of deposit rules. If your tax liability is $2,500 or more for 2018 but less than $2,500 for the fourth quarter, deposit any undeposited tax or pay it in full with a timely filed return. If you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full, you have until February 10 to file the return.

January 31 — Farm employers
File Form 943 to report social security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2018. Deposit or pay any undeposited tax under the accuracy of deposit rules. If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return. If you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full, you have until February 10 to file the return.

January 31 — Federal unemployment tax
File Form 940 for 2018. If your undeposited tax is $500 or less, you can either pay it with your return or deposit it. If it is more than $500, you must deposit it. However, if you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full, you have until February 10 to file the return.

January 31 — All businesses
Give annual information statements to recipients of certain payments you made during 2018 Details

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