How Much Will Your Personal Data be Sold For?

ObamaCare requires the collection of vast amounts of sensitive personal health data. Naturally its proponents swear that such information will be strictly confidential.

Tax preparers are one group that knows that such government promises cannot be relied upon. They are required to file form W12. The form includes a Privacy Act Notice stating that “Generally, the information you provide on this form is confidential pursuant to the Privacy Act of 1974 and tax returns and return information are confidential pursuant to Code section 6103.”

According to the TaxProf blog, on August 4, 2012, the IRS began selling a CD that contained information on all of the 850,000 federal tax return preparers from form W12 for the cost of $35. The information includes including email addresses, phone numbers, professional credentials, and websites.

Tax preparers commenting on the post are incensed that their time is now being wasted by spam and marketing calls using the data gleaned from the disk.

Comments (14)

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  1. Louise says:

    The election just ended and now we’re going to be subject to more robo-calls and e-mail avalanches? I thought I’d at least have 4 more years …

  2. MarkH says:

    I suspect HIPAA is more strict than the privacy act of 1974. That’s not to say medical information could be stripped from your name, address, emails etc., and your identifying information then abused, but then that’s already being done by your bank, your insurer, every single internet retailer (ebay, amazon etc.), your credit card company, the credit reporting companies, every company you’ve ever filled out a warranty card for, every magazine/newpaper you have a subscription for, every company that’s ever offered you anything for “free”, your alma mater, your employer etc. etc.

  3. MarkH says:

    Oh, I forgot, Google, Facebook, Myspace, Netflix, your cable company, your ISP, your power company, your phone company, your grocery store (what do you think that super-saver card is?), your department store, basically everyone at the mall (never tell them your zip code at the cashier)…

  4. Peterson says:

    These kinds of reports irk me. It’s like the government turns into a salesperson and begins to bug you daily. I just hope they have an “remove me from this list” link at the bottom of their emails.

  5. Lancer says:

    And so it begins…

  6. Studebaker says:

    The amount of information we willingly provide to people who ultimately sell it is just amazing. I think it would be funny if people began purposely distorting the data we’re required to divolge so it has little value. One week Helen Smith may be a 60-year old women of English orgin. The next week he might be a 36-year old Albanian man.

  7. Louise says:

    MarkH — Yes, but

  8. Louise says:

    oops, hit send too soon. I was going to say I expect that from stores at the mall and others. I know what steps I need to keep my information private (like your suggestion to not give a zip code). I don’t, nor should I, expect that from my government because I definitionally can’t opt out.

  9. Verona says:

    @ MarkH,

    You make some valid points. However, it’s one thing that you willingly provide personal information at the mall, grocery store, websites, etc., and something completely different that they “require” you to do it.

  10. Ashley says:

    Occupational licencing is not a good thing. Reputation and certification should be the maximum regulation of tax prepares.

  11. Brian Williams. says:

    I wonder what Julian Assange thinks about this.

  12. MarkH says:

    Ah, but do we willingly provide this information? Sometimes yes, usually no. There is no systematic opt-out system to protect us from this stuff and to truly avoid having the data aggregators create a file on you you couldn’t have a bank account, credit cards, insurance, a mortgage, or any of the usual things 99% of us have, need, or rely upon. So, either be a hermit, or accept that this stuff is being compiled without your consent all the time.

    Even when you opt out you can’t opt out. The opt out’s usually just say they won’t sell your information directly, however, read the fine print, they reserve the right to share the information with “affiliates”, guess who then sells that data?

    At least with government we’ll be able to FOIA them to figure out how it’s being used, write a congressman to complain, or vote to change our leadership. Guess what happens when you complain about this stuff to citibank? Or the credit reporting agencies for whom this is their bread and butter? Sure you can take your business elsewhere, but the next company will do the exact same thing, because there is no privacy protection against aggregation of data. What we need *gasp* is privacy regulation. Oops, I said a dirty word.

  13. Robert says:

    There’s a service, I cannot find the name or link to it right now, but it’s a subscription where they continually scour the net for you and your information and then erase it. Probably something I will be investing in.

  14. seyyed says: