One of the most common reasons a tax return rejects is because each person’s name on the tax return and Taxpayer’s Identification Number (‘TIN’) combination must match the records of the IRS. A verification check is performed by the IRS to determine whether the name/TIN combination is correct by matching it against a file containing all SSNs issued by the Social Security Administration or in the case of entities, against a file containing all EINs and other TINs issued by IRS. This process is the matching of the Name Control.
Basically, the Name Control on an electronically filed return is compared to the Name Control on the IRS’ file. If a match can be made, it is considered correct and the return can be accepted. If a match is not found, the name/TIN combination is considered incorrect and the return rejects.
The name control for an individual is generally the first four characters of the last name on the tax return, and the IRS uses the following criteria to establish the name control:
- The name control consists of up to four alpha and/or numeric characters.
- The hyphen (-) or a blank space are the only special characters allowed in the name control. These characters cannot be in the first position of the name control.
- The name control can have less, but no more than four characters. Blanks may be present only as the last three positions of the name control.
- If an individual has a hyphenated last name, the name control is the first four characters from the first of the two last names.
- For joint returns, regardless of whether the payees use the same or different last names, the name control is the first four characters of the primary payee’s last name.