Tax filing websites sent financial information to Facebook: Report
Tax filing websites have been sending users’ financial information to Facebook.
According to a new report from The Markup, the data was shared using a widely used code called the Meta Pixel.
The post said it includes names, email addresses, filing status, repayment amounts, dependents’ college scholarship amounts and income-related information about users.
Markup said the information sent to the social media giant can be used by the company for advertising algorithms and is collected whether the person using the tax filing service has an account on Facebook or another Meta platform.
APPLE IPHONE DATA NOT AS ANONYMOUS AS COMPANY SAYS: RESEARCHERS
Some of the most popular e-filing services use Pixel, including TaxAct, H&R Block, and TaxSlayer.
Markup said a review showed that a pixel on TaxAct’s website sent personal information, including your filing status, your adjusted gross income and your refund amount, to Facebook.
It appears that the names of dependents were also sent in a generally reversible format.
According to the report, H&R Block embedded a pixel that collected information about filers’ health savings account usage and dependents’ college tuition and scholarships.
This occurs when TaxSlayer submitted personal information as part of Facebook’s “advanced matching” system, including phone numbers, username and names of any dependents on the return.
“Our customers’ privacy is very important to all of us at TaxAct, and we continue to comply with all IRS laws and regulations,” TaxAct said in a statement emailed to Fox News on Wednesday. “The data provided to Facebook is used on an aggregate level, not on an individual level, by TaxAct to analyze our advertising effectiveness. TaxAct does not use the information provided by its customers and referred to in the report issued by The Markup for target advertising with Facebook.”
TaxSlayer spokeswoman Molly Richardson told The Markup that it had removed the pixel to evaluate its usage, noting that Ramsey Solutions “also decided to remove the pixel.”
GOOGLE MAPS INTRODUCES NEW FEATURES: HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
“The privacy of our customers is of the utmost importance and we take concerns about our customers’ information very seriously,” he said.
“H&R Block has removed pixels from its DIY online product to prevent the collection of customer tax information,” H&R Block told Fox News.
Markup said that as of Monday, the TaxAct site no longer sent financial details such as income and refund amounts to Meta, but continued to send names of dependents.
Additionally, TaxSlayer and Ramsey Solutions had removed the pixel from their tax filing sites, but H&R Block’s site continued to post information about health savings accounts and college tuition scholarships.
Ramsey Solutions spokeswoman Megan McConnell said the company had “implemented the Meta Pixel to provide a more personalized customer experience.”
“We did NOT know and were never notified that Facebook was collecting tax information from the Pixel,” he said. “As soon as we found out, we immediately informed TaxSlayer to disable the Ramsey SmartTax Pixel.”
Intuit’s TurboTax also stopped sending usernames through the pixel at login, according to Markup.
“Intuit does not share tax return information with social media platforms, including Meta (Facebook), for marketing or any other purpose. The Meta Pixel does not track, collect or share information that users enter into TurboTax while file their taxes. Intuit’s use of Meta Pixel complies with Section 7216,” an Intuit spokesperson told Fox News in an email.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
Intuit said it is committed to being a responsible steward of customer data and is clear about usage in a global privacy statement.
Fox News Digital’s requests for comment from Meta, TaxSlayer and Ramsey Solutions were not immediately returned.