Major tax filing services have been found using a simple piece of code called Meta Pixel, which covertly sends sensitive financial information to Facebook, according to The Markup. The tax filing services include TaxSlayer, TaxAct, and H&R Block.
The information sent to Facebook includes name, email, income, college scholarship information, filing status, and refund amounts. Facebook then uses the information to “improve its advertising algorithms.”
The information is sent whether or not someone has a Facebook account.
According to The Markup, TaxAct asks for personal information to calculate a taxpayer’s returns. The information includes a taxpayer’s income and their investments. Meta’s Pixel code on the TaxAct website sends some of that information, including filing status, refunds, and gross income, to Facebook. The pixel code also sends dependents’ names in an obfuscated form, which, according to The Markup, can be reversed to reveal the true identity.
TaxAct also sends anonymized taxpayers’ data to Google, through the analytics tool.
TaxSlayer, which completed the returns of 10 million taxpayers in 2021, sent Facebook taxpayers’ names and the names of dependents. Facebook uses that data for its “advanced matching” system that’s designed to link internet users’ information to Facebook accounts.
The pixel code on H&R Block’s website collects information on a taxpayer’s expense, usage of health savings accounts, and dependents’ college tuition grants.
Speaking to The Markup, tax filing service Ramsey Solutions said that it “implemented the Meta Pixel to deliver a more personalized customer experience,” but they “did NOT know and were never notified that personal tax information was being collected by Facebook from the Pixel.”
“As soon as we found out, we immediately informed TaxSlayer to deactivate the Pixel from Ramsey SmartTax.”
TurboTax, owned by Intuit, uses Meta Pixel. However, it did not send personal financial information, only names and the last time a device logged in. That’s because it does not use Meta Pixel past the sign in page.