Tax filing sites sent Facebook financial information: report

Tax filing sites reportedly send users’ financial information to Facebook.

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

The post said it includes names, email addresses, enrollment status, refund amounts, college scholarship amounts for dependents, and information about users’ income.

The Markup said the information sent to the social media giant can be used by the company in its advertising algorithms and is collected whether or not the person using the tax filing service has an account on Facebook or another Meta platform.

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Some of the most widely used electronic filing services use the Pixel, including TaxAct, H&R Block, and TaxSlayer.

The Markup said a review showed that a pixel on the TaxAct website sent personal information — including their filing status, their adjusted gross income, and how much they had refunded — to Facebook.

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

It appears that the names of the dependents were also sent in a generally reversible format.

H&R Block, the report said, included a pixel that collects information about applicants’ health savings account use, grants, and college tuition expenses for dependents.

It comes as TaxSlayer submitted personal information as part of Facebook’s “advanced matching” system, including phone numbers, a username and the names of any dependents on the return.

“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 a statement emailed to Fox News on Wednesday. “Data provided to Facebook on an aggregate level, rather than on an individual level, is used by TaxAct to analyze the effectiveness of our ads. TaxAct does not use information provided by its customers and referenced in the report by The Markup to target ads with Facebook.”

The H&  R Block Inc.  In front of the company's head office in New York, US, on Friday, March 2, 2012.

The H& R Block Inc. In front of the company’s head office in New York, US, on Friday, March 2, 2012.
(Photographer: Scott Iells/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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

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

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“H&R Block removed pixels from its DIY online product to prevent any customer tax information from being collected,” H&R Block told Fox News.

As of Monday, The Markup said, TaxAct was no longer sending financial details such as income and refunds to the Meta, but continued to send the names of dependents.

Additionally, TaxSlayer and Ramsey Solutions removed pixels from their tax filing sites, but the H&R Block site was continuing to send information about health savings accounts and college education grants.

TurboTax sits on a laptop in an arranged photo in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, US, on Friday, September 3, 2021.

TurboTax sits on a laptop in an arranged photo in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, US, on Friday, September 3, 2021.
(Photographer: Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Ramsey Solutions told Fox News Digital that the company has “implemented Meta Pixel to deliver a more personalized customer experience.”

“We did not know and were never notified that Facebook collected personal tax information from the Pixel,” they said. “As soon as we discovered this, TaxSlayer immediately notified us to deactivate the Pixel from Ramsey SmartTax.”

Intuit’s TurboTax also stops sending usernames via pixel when logging in, according to Markup.

Intuit does not share tax return information with social media platforms, including Meta (Facebook), for marketing or any other purpose. Meta Pixel does not track, collect, or share information users enter into TurboTax while filing taxes. Using Intuit from Meta Pixel Section 7216 compliant,” an Intuit spokesperson 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 use in its global privacy statement.

Consistent with our Privacy Policy, we may share certain non-tax return information, such as usernames, with marketing partners to provide a better customer experience. For example, if an individual clicks on a TurboTax ad on Facebook and creates an Intuit account or tags in their account Meta Pixel allows us to no longer show ads to individuals,” the spokesperson added. “While we have been consistent with our Privacy Policy, we have modified the Meta Pixel app to ensure that your username has not been transferred going forward.”

Fox News Digital’s request for comment from Meta did not immediately respond.

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