A Vancouver-based tax software firm wants to soothe concerns that it’s putting customers’ personal data at risk of being sold to third parties.
According to a recent CBC News report, SimpleTax has been Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)-certified to electronically file tax returns for Canadians since the 2012 tax season.
The company, which operates on a “pay what you want” model, had for years included a plain-language provision in its terms and conditions that reassures users their personal information, including the financial and demographic information they put in their tax returns, is not for sale.
But that changed after WealthSimple acquired the tax software startup in late 2019. Based on an updated version of SimpleTax’s terms of service reported by CBC News, the firm promises to not “disclose, trade, rent, or otherwise transfer” people’s information without their consent, aside from a few possible exceptions:
- Information may be disclosed, traded, rented, or transferred as permitted or required by law;
- It may transfer personal information and other third-party service providers who provide identity verification, technology, administration, printing, marketing and advertising, and various other services on the firm’s behalf; and
- It may transfer any information they have about users as an asset in connection with a prospective or completed merger or sale involving all or part of the firm; as part of a corporate reorganization or stock sale; or other change in corporate control.
The changes have provoked concern among SimpleTax customers, including some who spoke to CBC News and others who aired their sentiments on social media platforms such as Reddit. But in an emailed statement to Wealth Professional, Peter La of SimpleTax explained that the firm made changes to strengthen its product in preparation for the upcoming tax filing season.
He clarified that historical data submitted by its customers from 2012 to 2018 remains encrypted and not used for any business purposes.
“We're in the business of providing tax software; we're not in the business of selling data to third parties,” he said.