The IRS says it accidentally exposed confidential information involving 120,000 taxpayers

About 120,000 taxpayers who filed a 990-T will hear from the IRS in the coming weeks that the agency accidentally published their information on its website. Exempted organizations, including charities and religious groups, with independent business income must file Form 990-T. As The Wall Street Journal Note, however, that individuals with individual retirement accounts invested in income-generating assets, such as real estate, are also required to submit the form. Submissions from exempt organizations are intended to be public, but those from private individuals are not.

The agency said the problem stems from a human coding error last year when Form 990-T became available for electronic filing. As you can imagine, the bug resulted in non-public data being bundled with public data, all made available for download. Only in the past few weeks did an employee discover the problem and launch an investigation that eventually led to the removal of the data, which shouldn’t have been public at all.

In its letter, the IRS said the leaked data included individual names and business contact information. The affected taxpayers’ social security numbers, individual income details, and other information that could affect their creditworthiness were not released. The diarywhich was able to download some of the data before it was removed, said it also includes people’s income in their IRAs.

Although the leaked data has already been removed, the IRS is still reviewing the situation. Anna Canfield Roth of the Treasury Department also said that the agency “has directed the IRS to conduct an immediate review of its practices to ensure that the necessary safeguards are in place to prevent unauthorized data disclosure.”

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