If you were married or divorced recently, there are a couple of things you’ll want to do to ensure the name on your tax return matches the name registered with the Social Security Administration.
If a taxpayer takes their spouse’s last name or if both spouses hyphenate their last names, they may run into complications if they don’t notify the SSA. If the newlyweds file a tax return using their new last names, IRS computers would not be able to match the new name with their Social Security Number.
After a divorce, taxpayers who change back to their previous last name also need to notify the SSA of the change.
Informing the SSA of a name change is quite simple. File a Form SS-5 at your local SSA office. The form is available on SSA’s Web site at www.socialsecurity.gov, by calling 800-772-1213 or at local offices. It usually takes about two weeks to have the change verified.
Taxpayers who adopt their spouse’s child after getting married will want to make sure the children have an SSN. Taxpayers must provide SSNs for each dependent claimed on a tax return. For adopted children without SSNs, the parents can apply for an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number – or ATIN – by filing Form W-7A, Application for Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions with the IRS. The ATIN is a temporary number used in place of an SSN on the tax return. The W-7A is available on the IRS Web site, IRS.gov, or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
A divorce can cost between $1,500 to $15,000 for each party. To save money on this time-consuming and emotionally taxing process, consider the following tips:
Flat Fees: Paying your lawyer a flat fee gives you a hard and fast number that you can expect to pay. A guaranteed upper limit on your lawyer fees helps you budget for the transition in your life. There are many kinds of contested issues in divorce cases, and the more you have, the more you are likely to pay. Child custody, child support, maintenence, division of property and division of retirement account are all separate issues, and for each area that is contested, you can expect your flat fee to be about $1,000 higher.
Listen to your lawyer: Many people try to collect incriminating evidence on their spouse or hide certain information about themselves to come out ahead in the divorce. This can end up causing extra lawyer trouble later, so it’s best heed your counsel’s advice. Many people try to record their spouse’s telephone calls, hire private investigator, or conceal income from their spouse. If you are trying to make your case better, you should collaborate with your lawyer so he or she can tell you what actually will be helpful.
Stay in control: Most divorces are emotionally charged and feature two parties at odds. No matter how angry you are, try to keep your cool in these situations. Slashing tires, changing locks, and stealing the kids can land you in legal trouble, and can cost you a lot of extra money to boot.
Keep your records organized: Find and organize receipts for all your purchases. Proving what you spend and what you spend your money on can help you in your divorce settlement, alimony, and child support claims. Also try to keep records of other things, like who is shouldering more responsibility for the kids, for your income, etc.
While the process can be expensive and emotionally draining, hopefully these tips can help you save a little money so you are in a better place when you start the next chapter in your life.