Dec 6, 2022

Tax E-Filing Customers Had Financial Information Shared with Facebook

Tax E-Filing Customers Had Financial Information Shared with Facebook - filing taxes

The data privacy attorneys at Morgan & Morgan are investigating claims that certain tax preparation sites, such as H&R Block, TaxAct, TaxSlayer, and potentially TurboTax have been transmitting personal and sensitive financial information to Facebook and other platforms operated by its owner Meta when users of these tax services file their taxes online.

Earlier this year, multiple class action lawsuits were filed alleging that a widely used code called Meta Pixel that allows websites for hospitals and healthcare entities to share personal health information with Facebook and Meta.  Facebook can then use this information to train its powerful machine learning algorithms or, worse, sell the information to third parties.  The sharing of this private health information is potentially a violation of federal healthcare law. Now The Markup, a nonprofit organization devoted to reporting on tech issues, has indicated that the Meta Pixel configuration that allows for the sharing of sensitive health data on hospital sites can be exploited on tax preparation sites allowing H&R Block, TaxAct, and TaxSlayer to transmit financial information to Facebook without the user’s knowledge. The data shared may include income, refund amounts, names of dependents, and other personal financial information.

More than 150 million individual tax returns are filed electronically each year.  The Markup found that most of the widely used e-filing services employ Meta Pixel which allows the secret sharing of data. Millions of websites use pixels that allow for data harvesting. The pixels embedded in the software maintained by TaxAct and TaxSlayer are used in a feature known as “automatic advanced matching which scans forms looking for fields containing data such as name of filer, name of dependent, adjusted gross income, phone number, or email address. Once the tax return is filled out, this information is sent to Facebook and Meta. Meta then uses the information to link other pixel data to Facebook and Instragram profiles.

Under federal tax regulations, companies providing e-filing tax services can use the information they receive from taxpayers only for the very limited purpose of the filing of the tax return.  This newly discovered sharing of private financial information by TaxAct, TaxSlayer, and H&R Block would violate those regulations.

If you have used the e-filing tax services of H&R Block, TaxAct, TaxSlayer, you may have a legal claim against these companies for their sharing of your private financial information with Facebook and Meta. Call Morgan & Morgan to learn more.