Santa Paula Times

A Rose by any Other Name... May Have Trouble at Tax Time!

April 05, 2013

By Robert Cantu, E.A.

 If 2012 was the year that you married, divorced, or just decided that you’re more of a Fontaine than a Hornswoggle, it’s important that you register any name change with the Social Security Administration (SSA) before you file your taxes. If the IRS computers can’t match the name on your return with the one the Social Security Administration has for you, IRS may not know you filed a return and any refund you may be entitled to could be delayed.  

 Perhaps you married and took your spouse’s name, hyphenated the names or decided to use both your surnames. Any of these instances require reporting to SSA. Did you return to a former name after a divorce? This is also important to report. And, if you adopted children last year whose names were changed and do not report the name changes to SSA before filing taxes, IRS will probably flag your return.   

 In this electronic age, registering a new name with SSA is not the ordeal it once was. Just go to the SSA website,, and look for “Useful Links.” The first link in that box is “Name Changes.” This link takes you to a page that will walk you through the process. You’ll need to have the proper documentation, which could be a marriage certificate, a divorce decree, a certificate of naturalization showing a name change or documentation of a court-ordered name change. You’ll also need documents proving your identity (such as a US driver’s license or passport), and that you are a US citizen (such as a US birth certificate or certificate of naturalization). These documents must be originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. Photocopies or notarized copies will not be accepted.  

 You must then complete an application for a Social Security card (Form SS-5) and mail or bring that, along with the necessary documents, to your local SSA office. The SSA website allows you to search for an office in your area by zip code. If you have trouble finding the information on, use the search function to look for “application SS-5.”  Any mailed documents will be returned to you along with a receipt and your new card should arrive within 10 days.  

If you have adopted children who don’t have Social Security numbers, you’ll need to apply for an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number. You can find this application, Form W-7A, on the IRS website, 

To be certain you don’t make errors on your tax returns, or overlook any deductions or credits to which you are entitled, you may want to hire an enrolled agent to prepare your taxes this year. EAs are the only federally-licensed tax practitioners with unlimited rights to represent taxpayers before the IRS. Robert Cantu EA is a local Enrolled Agent in Santa Paula,  or you can visit the searchable “Find and EA” directory at or at