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Lawmakers claim Meta, Google had access to taxpayers' information

Democratic members of Congress issued a report indicating companies like H&R Block and TaxSlayer were "reckless" with personal information.
Lawmakers claim Meta, Google had access to taxpayers' information
Posted at 11:16 AM, Jul 12, 2023

Multiple Democratic lawmakers issued a report criticizing major tax preparers for allegedly providing personal information to companies like Meta and Google. 

The release follows a previous report that alleges companies like TaxAct, H&R Block and TaxSlayer have been secretly transmitting individual taxpayers’ sensitive financial information to Meta and Google. 

The report accuses the companies of "recklessly" sharing personal information of millions of taxpayers. It added that tax prep firms were "shockingly careless" with the data.

The lawmakers said the three tax prep companies may have violated the law by allegedly mishandling sensitive tax information. 

The report says that tax preparation companies used computer code, known as pixels, to transmit personal data to Meta and Google. 

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The report indicated Google was able to acquire taxpayers' filing status, adjusted gross income, approximate refund amount and names of dependents through TaxAct. Google could match that information with names, addresses and phone numbers. 

Meta was able to get information from H&R Block and TaxSlayer on pages taxpayers used for many revealing tax situations, including having dependents or certain tax credits. Although the companies said this data was anonymous, the Federal Trade Commission determined this information could be sourced, the report stated. 

The report added that Meta used this data to target ads to taxpayers. 

The lawmakers' investigation began about a month after the group sent a letter to the tax prep companies demanding answers. 

“These shocking reports of breaches of taxpayer privacy by tax preparation companies underscores the need for the IRS to provide its own free tax filing software,” the lawmakers wrote in November 2022. “American taxpayers should have the option of preparing and filing their taxes directly with the federal government instead of being forced to share private information with third parties that have a long record of abusive behavior, now potentially including turning over that data to Big Tech firms.” 

H&R Block released the following statement to Scripps News: "H&R Block takes protecting our clients’ privacy very seriously, and we have taken steps to prevent the sharing of information via pixels," the company said.

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