Facebook Under Scrutiny for Receiving Tax E-Filers’ Personal Financial Information (Report)

If you use some of the most popular tax prep software on the market, Facebook likely has your personal financial information, according to a shocking report.

Major tax filing services such as H&R Block, TaxAct and TaxSlayer have sent clients’ financial information to the social media site, nonprofit news site The Markup reported.

The data includes not only names and email addresses but also information about users’ income, filing status, refund amounts and dependents’ college scholarship amounts, the report said, adding that even if a customer isn’t on Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp, parent company Meta can still see its ads. Can use data to program algorithms.

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Some of the most widely used electronic tax filing systems use a code called a meta pixel to scrape data, the report said. About 150 million tax returns are e-filed with the IRS each year.

Filing services include TaxAct, which processes nearly three million returns. Markup said TaxAct sends unnamed but similar financial data to Google through its Google Analytics tool.

H&R Block handled about 6.7 million DIY online filings, including 11.5 million filings prepared by its workers and another million through IRS Free File, a free service for low-income taxpayers. H&R Block, the nation’s largest tax prep company, has embedded a pixel on its site that collects information about clients’ health savings accounts and dependents’ college tuition grants and expenses, The Markup reported.

Another popular site, TaxSlayer, sends personal information to Facebook as part of an “advanced matching system,” which collects information to try to link Web users to Facebook accounts, the story said. The company processed nearly 10 million returns last year.

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Smaller tax prep sites, such as Ramsey SmartTax, also include these pixels in their code, sometimes collecting more information to share from their clients, the report said.

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Intuit, which owns TurboTax, the country’s most popular online tax filing software, also uses pixels at sign-in, though the report said it did not use pixels to share financial information.

One company, Ramsey Solutions, which offers Ramsey SmartTax through TaxSlayer, said it implemented MetaPixels to provide a more personalized customer experience,” but claimed it “did not know and was never informed that Facebook is collecting personal tax information. Pixel.”

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Spokespeople for all other companies said they were working within IRS guidelines. TaxAct apparently stopped using Pixel after being contacted by reporters.

The report comes as Meta aims to recover from a succession of scandals since the 2016 Cambridge Analytica debacle. Last year, multiple news outlets reported on “The Facebook Papers,” resulting in more than 100 stories on issues ranging from ignoring human trafficking taking place on the site to ineffective content moderation playing a role in the January 6 uprising. US Capitol.

Amidst the revelations, the company rebranded as Meta.

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