If you have used a popular software program to complete your tax return, it is possible details of your income have been shared with Facebook, according to a new report.
The Markup reports that H&R Block, TaxAct and TaxSlayer are among the tax-filing companies that have sent personal and financial information to Facebook, including:
- Email addresses
- Tax-filing status (such as single, head of household, married filing jointly or married filing separately)
- Tax refund amounts
- Dependents’ college scholarship amounts
According to The Markup, a nonprofit investigative publication that covers Big Tech:
“The information sent to Facebook can be used by the company to power its advertising algorithms and is gathered regardless of whether the person using the tax filing service has an account on Facebook or other platforms operated by its owner, Meta.”
In one bit of relatively good news from the report, The Markup found that Intuit — the company behind the popular tax software TurboTax — does not employ the pixel to transmit financial information to Facebook. It does, however, send usernames and the last time a device signed in to the software.
Mandi Matlock, a Harvard Law School lecturer and expert in tax law, said The Markup’s report shows the tax-filing software companies are exploiting their customers’ most sensitive data. She described the situation as “appalling.”
The Markup’s report appears to have pushed some of the tax-filing software companies to change their practices. According to The Markup:
“On Monday, after TaxAct was contacted by The Markup for comment, the company’s site no longer sent financial details like income and refund amount to Meta but continued to send the names of dependents. The site also continued to send financial information to Google Analytics. Also as of Monday, TaxSlayer and Ramsey Solutions had removed the pixel from their tax filing sites and TurboTax had stopped sending usernames through the pixel at sign in. H&R Block’s site was continuing to send information on health savings accounts and college tuition grants.”