Updated October 30, 2020:

An IRS corporate name change notifies the IRS that your company is changing its legal name. This can be done at the time of tax filing or at another time, as long as proper notification to the IRS takes place.

Why Does the IRS Need to Know About a Corporate Name Change?

When a corporation is founded, steps must be taken to ensure the identity of the company is separate from the owners' personal identity. One of the first steps is for the owners to apply to the IRS to get a nine-digit federal employer identification number or EIN.

Similar to a Social Security number for an individual, the EIN is permanently attached to the business, even if the name of the company changes later or the owner's name changes. The EIN is an easy way for the IRS to know with whom they are communicating, even when two businesses have the same or similar names. That can sometimes happen unless it's prohibited by state or local statute.

The fastest way to get an EIN is to apply online. You get your number via email either the same or the next business day. You can also check the status of your request via the online portal anytime. If you lose your EIN, you can retrieve it from this safe and secure website.

When the IRS assigns an EIN, an exact legal name is attached to it based on the entity's application. Sometimes companies find it necessary to change the name of the business. The IRS must be notified of that change so the EIN on file always matches the current name of the business. Understanding this system is important to entrepreneurs who want to keep their federal and state records in good order.

Does the EIN Ever Change?

The EIN is the primary identifier on government documents related to your business. It also indicates to the IRS certain things about the tax structure of your company. Rarely would the EIN change, unless the business:

  • Goes bankrupt.
  • Changes the type of entity. For example, if you are changing from a partnership to a corporation, then you will switch to an EIN for an LLC. If you are dissolving your corporation, you'll switch to a sole proprietor EIN.
  • Is part of an inheritance received by someone new.
  • Receives a new charter from the secretary of state.

When Can I Complete a Corporate Name Change With the IRS?

You can make the change when the corporation's annual tax return is filed, or you can do it at another time.

  • If your EIN was just issued and you haven't filed any tax documents yet, you can change the name by writing to IRS-Stop 343G, Cincinnati, OH 45999.
  • To make a corporate name change when you file the annual tax return, the steps you take vary based on the tax forms you're using. You submit these forms to the IRS with your regular tax return, along with documentation from your state's government showing you have completed the name change with them.
    • If you are using Form 1120-Corporations, see Page 1, Line E, Box 3.
    • If you are using Form 1120S-S-Corporation, refer to Page, 1, Line H, Box 2.
    • If you are an LLC with only one member, you'll use Form 1120-F.
  • To change the name of a corporation at a time other than the annual tax filing:
    • Locate the address where your annual tax return is submitted.
    • Write to the IRS at that address informing them of the name change. Be sure to include the former name and EIN of the business. The letter must be signed by a corporate officer.
    • Attach documentation to the letter showing that the name change has been completed by your state's government.

Who Else Should I Notify Besides the IRS?

Once the IRS has notification of your name change, you can start changing it with everyone else your company does business with, like vendors and banks. To stay organized, it's a good idea to keep a master list of all these people and organizations. You want to include all taxing authorities, like cities and counties. This helps your business make the change smoothly without disrupting mail service. It also helps the owners keep the team on the right track as the change happens.

If you need help with notifying the IRS about a corporate name change, you can post your job on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.