Tax reporting websites sent financial information to Facebook: report

Tax reporting websites have reportedly sent users’ financial information to Facebook.

According to a new report from The Markup, the data was shared via a widely used code called Meta Pixel.

The publication said it includes users’ names, email addresses, enrollment statuses, reimbursement amounts, dependents’ college scholarship amounts, and income information.

According to the markup, the information sent to the social media giant can be used by the company for advertising algorithms and is collected regardless of whether the person using the tax return service has an account on Facebook or another meta-platform or not.

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Some of the most popular e-filing services use the pixel, including TaxAct, H&R Block and TaxSlayer.

According to the markup, a review showed that a pixel on TaxAct’s website sent personal information — including login status, their adjusted gross income, and the amount of their refund — to Facebook.

MONTGOMERY, AL - DECEMBER 25: A TaxAct banner prior to the TaxAct Camellia Bowl between the Georgia State Panthers and the Ball State Cardinals on December 25, 2021 at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama.

MONTGOMERY, AL – DECEMBER 25: A TaxAct banner prior to the TaxAct Camellia Bowl between the Georgia State Panthers and the Ball State Cardinals on December 25, 2021 at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama.
((Photo by Chris McDill/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images))

Relatives’ names were also apparently transmitted in a generally reversible format.

H&R Block, the report said, embedded a pixel that collected information about filers’ use of health savings accounts and dependents’ grants and tuition expenses.

This is because TaxSlayer sent personal information, including phone numbers, the user’s name and the names of any family members of the returnee, as part of Facebook’s “Advanced Matching” system.

“The privacy of our customers is very important to all of us at TaxAct, and we continue to comply with all laws and IRS regulations,” TaxAct said in an emailed statement to Fox News on Wednesday. “Data provided to Facebook is used by TaxAct on an aggregate level and not on an individual level to analyze our advertising effectiveness. TaxAct does not use the information provided by its customers and referenced in the report published by The Markup to serve targeted advertising with Facebook. “

The H&R Block Inc. logo is on display outside the company's flagship office in New York, USA, on Friday March 2, 2012.

The H&R Block Inc. logo is on display outside the company’s flagship office in New York, USA, on Friday March 2, 2012.
(Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

TaxSlayer spokeswoman Molly Richardson told The Markup that she removed the pixel to evaluate its use, noting that Ramsey Solutions “decided to remove the pixel as well.”

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“Our customers’ privacy is paramount, and we take concerns about our customers’ information very seriously,” she said.

“H&R Block has removed the pixels from its do-it-yourself online product to prevent it from collecting tax information from customers,” H&R Block told Fox News.

According to the markup, as of Monday, TaxAct’s website stopped sending Meta financial details, such as earnings and reimbursement amounts, but continued to send the names of dependents.

The TurboTax website on a laptop computer in a composed photo in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, U.S. on Friday, March 9, 2021.

The TurboTax website on a laptop computer in a composed photo in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, U.S. on Friday, March 9, 2021.
(Photographer: Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Also, TaxSlayer and Ramsey Solutions had removed the pixel from their tax return pages, but H&R Block’s page continued to post information about health savings accounts and student grants.

Megan McConnell, a spokeswoman for Ramsey Solutions, said the company “implemented the meta pixel to provide a more personalized customer experience.”

“We did NOT know and were never informed that Facebook is collecting personal tax information through the pixel,” she said. “As soon as we found out about this, we immediately informed TaxSlayer to disable the Ramsey SmartTax pixel.”

According to the markup, Intuit’s TurboTax has also stopped sending usernames through the Pixel at login.

“Intuit does not share tax return information with social media platforms, including Meta (Facebook), for marketing or other purposes. The meta-pixel does not track, collect, or share any information that users enter into TurboTax while filing their taxes. Intuit’s use of Meta Pixel is compliant with Section 7216,” an Intuit spokesman told Fox News in an email.

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Intuit said it is committed to being a responsible steward of customer data and is clear about its use in a global privacy statement.

“In accordance with our privacy policy, we may collect some non-tax return information, such as B. Usernames, shared with marketing partners to provide a better customer experience. For example, if a person clicks on a TurboTax ad on Facebook and creates an Intuit account or signs into their account, Meta Pixel allows us to stop showing the person an ad,” the spokesperson added. “While we have complied with our privacy policy we changed the implementation of meta pixel to ensure no username is transmitted in the future.”

Fox News Digital’s requests for comment from Meta, TaxSlayer and Ramsey Solutions were not immediately responded to.

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