New York -- A new study has found that the Form 990 tax returns filed by tax-exempt organizations frequently expose the Social Security numbers of tax preparers, donors, employees, scholarship recipients and others to the public.

The study, from Identity Finder, used its Identity Finder DLP 6.0 software to search through 2,892,475 Form 990s from tax years 2001 through 2006 for personally identifiable information such as SSNs. Even though SSNs are not generally required on a Form 990, Identity Finder found that 132,362 organizations published 472,866 SSNs, of which 171,005 were unique. Between 2001 and 2006, more than 18 percent of all nonprofits or their tax preparers published at least one SSN on their public tax return, the study found. In all, 287,238 Form 990 returns contained at least one SSN.

High school and college scholarship recipients, tax preparers, directors, employees, trustees and donors were the primary groups whose SSNs were exposed. At least 35 percent of the SSNs belonged to tax preparers who identified themselves by their SSN instead of a Preparer Tax Identification Number.

For a copy of the report, visit



Washington, D.C. -- The Taxpayer Advocate Service at the Internal Revenue Service is beginning to test a way for taxpayers to engage in face-to-face teleconferences with case workers to help them deal with their tax problems, and the program may expand to audits as well. National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson recommended that the IRS use the technology to conduct "virtual face-to-face audits" with taxpayers as a way to overcome persistent problems with the IRS's correspondence examination process. In a blog post in April, Olson pointed out that the IRS's highly automated correspondence examination program leads to problems such as confusing audit notices that result in low response rates and high rates of default tax assessments.

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