Is Your Tax Info Being Sold?
You may use Turbo Tax or H&R Block online to file your taxes. It’s easy. It’s quick. But did you know that by clicking “agree” to some of their privacy prompts, you may be allowing sale of your personal data?
A Washington Post reader dug into the agreements after starting his taxes with one of the online tax services. After agreeing to the primary privacy agreement, the website requested permission to access personal data to “optimize your experience.”
This second permission stated: “If you agree to share your tax return details, after you file, we can provide many benefits.”
Your benefits were labeled as “personalized services” and “quicker product support.” It became clear that the tax filing software industry advanced from returns processors to profiteers of personal data.
The U.S. is skimpy on privacy laws, but it does have one that prevents tax filing companies from disclosing the contents of your tax return. For online processors, that means they can’t automatically use the contents of returns for purposes other than preparing taxes.
With this new add-on agreement, Turbo Tax and H&R Block Both companies are asking special permission to supersede federal protections and use your information, including your income, investments and mortgage details to help them upsell you on other financial products.
In addition, H&R Block wants your permission to share some of the content of your return with two independent companies in the Philippines that help them do customer service.
Clicking yes for the “personalized service” or “offers” request means you’re probably going to receive marketing from H&R Block or Intuit that’s eerily specific to your financial situation.
H&R Block stated it vets their partners, and to its knowledge they haven’t suffered from a data breach. But it can happen.
If you agreed to these requests while preparing your taxes and have now changed your mind, you can try to revoke access. But they’re going to make you jump through some hoops. For TurboTax, you have to email email@example.com. You must mention you’d like to revoke your “consent for use of tax return information.” H&R Block said customers would have to contact the company, but didn’t specify how.