The IRS said Friday that it inadvertently published private information from about 120,000 taxpayers, the latest controversy for an agency increasingly in the spotlight.
The data was posted on its website for a year before being recently discovered and removed. The disclosure, of details from business tax returns filed by tax-exempt organizations and retirement accounts, included people’s names, business contact information and income produced by certain investments.
“However, the data did not include Social Security numbers, individual income information, detailed financial account data, or other sensitive information that could impact a taxpayer’s credit,” said Anna Canfield Roth, acting assistant secretary for management, wrote lawmakers.
The agency is required to release information from those Form 990-Ts when they’re filed by 501(c)(3) organizations as a matter of public disclosure. The administration says returns filed by other taxpayers were supposed to be screened out, but that didn’t happen so all of the 990s were searchable in its database. An IRS researcher recently discovered the error.
The mishap was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
The snafu comes as Republicans have been pounding on the agency in the wake of Democrats pushing through an historic $80 billion cash infusion for the agency.
The department has already been under fire for both a still-unexplained leak of scads of wealthy people’s tax information to ProPublica and why a pair of prominent critics of President Donald Trump were selected for a rare type of audit during his administration.
“The IRS is continuing to review this situation,” said Canfield Roth.
“The Treasury Department has instructed the IRS to conduct a prompt review of its practices to ensure necessary protections are in place to prevent unauthorized data disclosures.”