The Reference Section

A collection of wealth improvement articles


Avoid Name Mismatch Audits
Last Reviewed: 12/03/2016

If you were married, divorced, or changed your name for any reason during the past year, do not forget to file to change your name prior to preparing your tax return. The IRS automatically conducts a name match on the first few letters of your last name. If the name on your tax return does not match the name on file at the Social Security Administration for your social security number, here's what could happen;

  • You are unable to e-file your tax return
  • The IRS automatically accepts your income as taxable, but then disallows any deductions.
  • You may receive a notice from the IRS with taxes owed and underpayment penalties.

Here's what you can do.

  • Prior to filing your tax return, go to www.ssa.gov and download form SS-5. Fill the form with the name change and file it as soon as possible.
  • Also notify your employer. Double check the W-2 you receive to ensure the change was made correctly. If the change is made on your W-2, you must make sure it is changed at Social Security.
  • If you are planning a major financial transaction in the near future you may wish to adjust the timing of the transaction or the timing of your name change to avoid complications.
  • Don't forget to also change your name on other important documents like auto titles, drivers license, property titles, bank accounts, loan agreements, beneficiary documents and other accounts.

If you are unable to make the name change in a timely manner, make sure you use the name on file at the Social Security Administration AND with your employer so when filing your taxes you avoid the automatic notification of a name mismatch. Here is a link to the Social Security web site that walks through their name change process; Social Security Name Change Process