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Small Business

What is “Name Control”? Why was my form 941 e-file rejected?

November 2nd, 2017

One of the most common reason for IRS rejecting a form 941 e-file is the “Name Control” is wrong.  The IRS error & rejection message is typically shown as:

Error: R0000-901-01-Filer’s EIN and Name Control in the Return Header must match data in the e-file database.

The error message basically means that the company EIN (Federal Employer Identification Number) and the company name, or Name Control, do not match the records in the IRS database.  Users are sometimes confused by the message and do not know how to correct it.

Name Control is a 4-character representation of the legal business name that was used to apply the EIN.  Instead of checking the full, possibly very long business name, the IRS will verify the Name Control and the EIN when a 941 e-file tax return is filed by the business.  The Name Control is typically assigned based on the business type (company, sole proprietor, e.g.) and certain characteristics of the business name (length, abbreviation, etc.).  It is typically the first characters of the business name though the exact assignment of the Name Control could vary for partnerships, exempt organizations, estate & trusts, sole proprietor and other factors.  Several general rules are listed below.

  • The ampersand (&) and hyphen (-) are the only special characters allowed in the name control.
  • The name control can have fewer, but no more than four characters.
  • Spaces or blanks are not part of a name control. For example, the name control for Joe Doe Trucking is JOED.
  • The word “The” at the beginning of your business name is not used in your name control.
  • Blanks may be present only at the end of the name control.
  • Do not include “dba”, Do Business As name, as part of the name control.

The bottom line is that there is no easy way to determine the Name Control exactly.  If your 941 e-file tax return is rejected for EIN/Name Control mismatch with IRS data, you may need to contact the IRS to find the Name Control for your business.

Adding to the confusion is that the IRS had suspended its validation of Name Control for a while and has just started to check the EIN and Name Control again for the 3rd quarter form 941 filings.  Some users may have filed form 941s successfully for prior quarters and cannot understand why the 3rd quarter 2017 Form 941 e-file is rejected due to business Name Control.  The users did not change anything but the IRS is now checking the Name Control.

If your form 941 e-file was rejected due to Name Control error, you should review the Name Control that you had used, revise it, and resubmit.  If necessary, call the IRS to confirm the correct Name Control for your business before e-file form 941 again.

You can find more details about Name Control and how it is assigned from the IRS website.

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