Issue w/taxes after legal name change?

My husband legally changed his last name in 1998. Since then, we've had issues w/electronic tax filing. So, we took it in stride w/out knowing why we couldn't electronically file. We just learned (it's a long and irrelevant story) that the Social Security Admin. had incorrectly spelled his last name. It was the simplest name ever- Johnson. But, the SSA had spelled it Jhonson. 

We are continuously hounded by the IRS to pay additional taxes. We made less than $100K in 2017, but my husband has paid over $2K and now I'm being charged an additional $1100 for the same year. We filed "married/jointly", we don't have dependents, our income was around $70K that year. 

My question is this: Is there an issue that requires an overview by the IRS? And, if so, should we contact an attorney? The IRS offices within a 100 mile radius are closed, so we can't make an appt. to discuss this in person. 

I'd be so grateful for any suggestions. And, if you know about taxes and this sounds correct to you, then I'd be super grateful to hear from you as well. I just need to know if we're overpaying for a silly clerical issue or if this is something that needs to be addressed legally.

Shouldn't we get a total due for us as "married, filing joint", rather than us being taxed and charged individually? 

4 Answers

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  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    The IRS does a lot of 2-factor matching.  That is, the SSN against the first 4 letters of one's last name, using the SSA records.  According to you, your husband already knows the SSA has his last name spelled wrong and it's within the first 4 letters. 

    Things your husband needs to do (and should have done years ago):

    1.  Get the spelling fixed with the SSA.

    2.  Request a detailed earnings history and verify that ALL of his income has been correctly credited to his SSA account.  Retirement and disability benefits are based on this income and could be missing.

    3.  He needs to look at those letters that say he owes in additional taxes.  If you filed married filing jointly, the letters are supposed to be addressed to both of you because on an MFJ return, you are just as liable for any amount owed as he is.

    4.  He needs to look at those letters and compare them to the tax returns you sent in.  Was the income reported on that return or not?

    5.  When you filed by mail, whose name and SSN did you put first on the return?  Yours or his?  If your name was first, it's possible that the IRS plugged in a dummy number for your husband and there is nothing on the SSN to indicate that he even filed.  With the name corrected with the SSA, the records can be "merged."  (As is done for women who get married who file under their married names, but forget to update their maiden name with the SSA.)

  • 1 month ago

    The name thing would have nothing to do with what taxes you owe.

  • 1 month ago

    First, before you do anything, you need to contact the social security administration immediately and get their records corrected.  This will affect your ability to collect benefits when you retire.  It is not an $100 or $2k issue -- you stand to lose millions of dollars over your lifetime if you can't collect social security benefits because you didn't fix this.  However, you don't need a lawyer to fix this part of the situation.

    As far as the IRS, it's probably not worth hiring a lawyer over such a small amount; a tax attorney might charge you more than the $1100 or $2k or whatever.

    Even if they were open, trying to meet with the IRS in person would not be the right way to deal with this.  You should communicate with them in writing, by mail.

    If you can't get it resolved through normal channels, and it's clearly an error on their part and not a dispute about tax law, then read https://www.irs.gov/taxpayer-advocate , https://www.irs.gov/advocate/the-taxpayer-advocate... , and Pub. 1546 and then contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service.

  • 1 month ago

    You have to fix it with Social Security or it will be a mess forever

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