You finally got around to tying the knot and now you have a new name. Whether you took your husband's name or have a hyphenated name, this is now your legal name and you have to use it on all legal documents, including your tax forms. But before you file, there are a few steps you have to take to avoid processing problems or refund delays.
Completing your Tax forms
When you marry, your married name becomes your legal name but there are steps that you are required to take to record this name change. When you file your taxes, your name on the form is checked against your Social Security number to make sure that they match. If they don't match, there will be delays in processing your return and issuing any refunds to which you may be entitled. Updating this information is your responsibility. It does not happen automatically.
If you change your name, notify the Social Security Administration. You will have to complete form SS-5, which is an application for a new Social Security card. You will also need a certified copy of your marriage certificate to show the name change. If you don't do this on a timely basis, or if the information on the marriage certificate is insufficient to establish your prior identity, you will have to provide a driver's license, state issued ID card or U.S. passport. If you don't notify Social Security, your wages will not be credited to your Social Security account, which will affect your retirement benefits. A mismatch may also reduce or delay your refund, or increase your taxes.
You have to notify your employer of the name change so he can change the information on your W-2 or other income-related document. You also must change your status on your W-4 Form so the correct amount of tax is withheld from your check. It's important to note that your Social Security number won't change. Your marital status as of December 31 determines your filing status with the IRS.
If you filed your taxes and then moved, notify the IRS of the address change using Form 8822. This ensures that you will receive any correspondence the IRS may send you if there is a problem with your tax filing. It is your responsibility to notify the IRS and "I didn't know" is never an acceptable defense with the IRS.
Julie Segraves is a freelance writer and photographer. She has written for several community newspapers in Chicago and authors her own blog. Segraves graduated from Loyola University with a Bachelor's in sociology and a minor in criminal justice. She currently works in the IT field as a mainframe operations analyst and disaster recovery specialist.