While rare, it is not totally uncommon for our startup and even more established business clients to change their name. When this occurs, how does your business notify the IRS of a change in its business name?
Ben here: Thank you for viewing one of our more popular posts but understand that it is only for general informational purposes. To be totally clear, I am not a tax attorney or CPA, and this is NOT tax advice. Our Phoenix law firm focuses on startup businesses, e-commerce, and software and technology transactions. You should always consult with your CPA or qualified tax advisor with regard to any matters of taxation, tax planning, and tax liability as they apply to your specific situation.
Why would a company change its name?
Recently, a startup client which had incorporated under a prior name before hiring me ended up deciding to re-brand themselves under a new name. Turns out the old name was already used by and even Federally registered as a trademark by other parties. As such, their choice of name didn’t stand the best chance of being registrable or, at a minimum, carried a good amount of legal risk with it.
So, they changed their name and decided to re-brand. Problem was, they already had a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) assigned to them in connection with the former name.
Does the IRS even allow a business name change?
Fortunately, the IRS allows business owners and authorized individuals to submit a name change request for the business. How you as the business owner go about this will depend on the type of business, which I cover later in this article.
Notifying the IRS of a business name change by letter
If your business has a newly assigned EIN and does not have to file a tax return for awhile (or has already filed its return prior to the name change), then you may send a Business Name Change request to:
Internal Revenue Service
Kansas City, MO 64999
Note that certain name change scenarios (e.g., a merger or conversion) may require a new EIN or a final tax return altogether. Once again, you should discuss these and other situations carefully with your CPA or tax advisor prior to submitting any name change requests.
If you have changed your business’ name and have not yet filed (but are about to file) your company’s tax return, then you’re in luck—you should (and I stress should) be able to notify the IRS right on the business’ tax return itself.
How do I change a Corporation’s name with the IRS?
If your business (as many of our clients are) is organized as a Corporation filing a current year return, you can inform the IRS of the name change by checking the name change box and filling in the necessary information on the Form 1120 (Line E, Box 3 for C-Corporations, or Line H, Box 2 for S-Corporations).
How do I change a partnership or LLC name with the IRS?
If you are organized as a limited partnership or general partnership or (as is common here in Arizona) a limited liability company (LLC) that is treated for tax purposes as a partnership, and you are filing a Form 1065 for the current year, you may notify the IRS of the business’ name change by checking and completing the applicable box on the first page of the partnership return, in Line G, Box 3.
I’m a sole proprietor business owner. How do I notify the IRS of my name change?
Finally, business owners who are operating as sole proprietors will have to notify the IRS of the name change by letter to the address where they filed (or will be filing) their individual income tax return.
Obviously, you should make a copy of any tax returns or correspondence indicating the name change request. Generally, the IRS should send you an acknowledgement of the change request within approximately 60 days.
Ben Bhandhusavee is the Managing Attorney for BHANDLAW, PLLC, a startup, technology, and e-commerce law practice advising founders and management teams on company startup, corporate and technology transactions, e-commerce, as well as Internet privacy concerns. The firm serves corporate and individual clients throughout Arizona, the United States, and internationally. Our offices are conveniently located along the Camelback corridor in Phoenix’s financial district. For more information about our Company Startup practice, feel free to reach out using the contact form on the right or call us at (602) 222-5542 to schedule a meeting. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn or Avvo.