About 120,000 taxpayers who filed Form 990-Ts will hear from the IRS in the coming weeks, telling them the agency inadvertently exposed their information on its website. Exempt organizations, including charities and religious groups, with unrelated business income are required to file Form 990-T. As The Wall Street Journal notes, however, that people with Individual Retirement Accounts invested in income-generating assets, such as real estate, are also required to complete the form. The filings of exempt organizations are supposed to be public, but those of individuals are not.
The agency said the problem stemmed from a human input error last year when Form 990-T became available for electronic filing. As you can guess, the error led to the aggregation of non-public data with public data, all of which was made available for download. It was only in recent weeks that an employee discovered the issue and launched an investigation that ultimately led to the removal of data that shouldn’t have been public in the first place.
In its letter, the IRS said the data disclosed included individual names and business contact information. The affected taxpayers’ social security numbers, individual income details and other information that could impact their credit have not been made public. The newspaperwho was able to download some of the data before it was deleted, said it also included people’s income in their IRAs.
Even though it has already deleted the leaked data, the IRS is still reviewing the situation. Anna Canfield Roth of the Treasury Department also said the agency “has asked the IRS to conduct a prompt review of its practices to ensure the necessary protections are in place to prevent unauthorized disclosure of data.” .