The Internal Revenue Service inadvertently published confidential information about about 120,000 taxpayers on its website before discovering the error and removing the data, officials said Friday.
The shared data comes from Form 990-Ta business tax return document used by tax-exempt entities, including individual retirement accounts, to report and pay income taxes on income generated from certain investments or income unrelated to their exempt purpose, according to the IRS.
The “accidental” exposure included names, contact information and financial information about income within those IRAs. However, it did not contain social security numbers, complete individual income information, detailed financial account information or other sensitive information that could affect a taxpayer’s credit.
In some cases, the data does not contain individual names or business contact details.
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“The IRS has taken immediate steps to address this issue,” the agency said in a statement to FOX Business. The files have been removed from IRS.gov and will be replaced with updated files in the near future. In addition, the IRS will also work with groups that routinely use the files to remove the erroneous files and replace them with the correct versions as soon as they are released. become available.”
The agency said it would contact all affected individuals.
Information on Form 990-T — like all individual taxpayer data — is in most cases intended to be confidential. But charities with unrelated business income must file Form 990-T, which should be made public.
The IRS discovered the flaw in recent weeks and took “immediate steps to address this issue,” according to a letter sent to Congress by Anna Cothfield Roth, the acting assistant secretary for management at the Treasury Department.
Federal law requires the IRS to report disclosure of private information to lawmakers within seven days of discovering that “a major incident has occurred.” The IRS determined a week ago, on Aug. 26, that the data exposure meets those criteria.
“The IRS continues to assess this situation,” Cothfield Roth wrote in the letter. “The Treasury Department has instructed the IRS to promptly review its practices to ensure appropriate safeguards are in place to prevent unauthorized disclosure of data.”
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The disclosure comes shortly after President Biden signed into law a comprehensive healthcare and climate change package that will provide the IRS with an inflow of $80 billion in funding to modernize the agency.
While Democrats have touted funding as a way to tackle tax fraud by wealthy people, Republican lawmakers have been quick to criticize it, warning that a stronger IRS could lead to more controls on lower- and middle-income households.