Multiple Tax Companies Caught Sending Sensitive Info To Meta

( – Three of America’s largest tax preparation companies were caught sending extremely private and sensitive information on their users to Facebook parent company Meta as well as Google. A letter from congressional Democrats urges an investigation, suggesting there could be billions of dollars in liability claims against the firms.

H&R Block, Tax Act, and Tax Slayer shared the data over two years, potentially violating privacy standards as well as federal law. The group issued a letter to the head of the IRS, Department of Justice, and the Federal Trade Commission, encouraging the organizations further scrutinize the matter and take the companies to court if necessary.

Information like sources of taxpayers’ income, their deductions, and exemptions were made available to Meta. The companies use Meta’s code in a program called “Pixel,” which allows companies to gather marketing data on their users to better target their advertising campaigns. The software also makes that data available to Meta as part of the package deal.

Meta could then compare the data to that of its users and create even more effective targeted ads. The list of data they collected is long and includes names of dependents, income, taxes paid or still owed, what buttons the users pushed on the tax prep sites, as well as the names of forms they used to report their income. The data was also shared with Google through its suite of tools.

Signatories of the letter were Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CO), and Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA).

The discovery was originally reported by non-profit journalists at The Markup in November 2022.

Tax Act told The Markup that they take privacy concerns “very seriously” and strive to comply with all IRS regulations and federal law. TaxSlayer said that they removed Pixel after evaluating the software for their needs; they also claim that the privacy of their users’ data is “of utmost importance” to the company. H&R Block said that they’ve “taken steps” to ensure their user data cannot be transmitted via Pixel after becoming aware of the problem and that they take user privacy “very seriously.”

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