Hogan's Alley

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer the IRS published a proposed regulation change back in December that would permit accountants and other tax preparers (read H&R Block) to sell taxpayer data. The regulation would require the specific written consent of the taxpayer, but as is pointed out in the piece, most people simply sign whatever the preparer puts in front of them and often at the last minute. Have you filed your taxes yet?

And what about returns filed electronically via the medium of Turbo Tax or other tax prep software? Does the software company have the right to sell your information if you affirmatively give permission? Will the permission box be checked yes as the default? Will they be permitted to sell specific identifying information like names, addresses or phone numbers so that sales pitches and mailings can be tailored to specific income groups or people with certain types of income? Will purchased data migrate to the already uncomfortably personal credit bureaus?

Many questions, but no answers...yet.