Campaign for Budget Transparency

IMPROVING TRANSPARENCY, IMPROVING ACCOUNTABILITY—The ability to see how government collects and spends money is fundamental to a thriving, participatory democracy.

Let The Public Follow the Money

Public budgets are the most concrete expression of public values and priorities—articulated in dollars and cents. As states grapple with difficult decisions to make budgetary ends meet, opening the state checkbook to the public provides an important tool that allows both citizens and civil servants to make informed choices.

Unfortunately, too often public subsidies, tax breaks or special deals are granted to powerful corporate interests at the taxpayers’ expense. When this happens, Massachusetts residents are stuck with the tab, or public resources and services end up threatened.

Transparency in government spending checks corruption, promotes fiscal responsibility and allows for greater, more meaningful participation in our democratic system.

MASSPIRG is working to make all government spending and budgeting fully transparent, on an easy-to-use and comprehensive website.

While the Commonwealth has made significant improvements since we started our campaign in providing public access to state spending and revenue on the Transparency Massachusetts website, even earning an A in our Following the Money 2015 report,  there is still more to do, including providing more budget information on all quasi-public agencies, tax expenditures, and municipalities, as well as access to all contracts.

Issue updates

News Release | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Tax

Study: 72% of Fortune 500 Companies Used Tax Havens in 2014

 

Tax loopholes encouraged more than 72 percent of Fortune 500 companies – including 8 companies head quartered in Massachusetts – to maintain subsidiaries in offshore tax havens as of 2014, according to “Offshore Shell Games,” released today by MASSPIRG Education Fund, and Citizens for Tax Justice. Collectively, the companies reported booking nearly $2 trillion offshore for tax purposes, with just 30 companies accounting for 65 percent of the total, or $1.35 trillion.

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Tax

Biggest Tax Dodgers

 U.S.-based multinational corporations are allowed to play by a different set of rules than small and domestic businesses or individuals when it comes to the tax code. Rather than paying their full share, many multinational corporations use accounting tricks to pretend for tax purposes that a substantial portion of their profits are generated in offshore tax havens, countries with minimal or no taxes where a company’s presence may be as little as a mailbox. Multinational corporations’ use of tax havens allows them to avoid an estimated $90 billion in federal income taxes each year.

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Tax

Offshore Shell Games 2015

U.S.-based multinational corporations are allowed to play by a different set of rules than small and domestic businesses or individuals when it comes to the tax code. Rather than paying their full share, many multinational corporations use accounting tricks to pretend for tax purposes that a substantial portion of their profits are generated in offshore tax havens, countries with minimal or no taxes where a company’s presence may be as little as a mailbox. Multinational corporations’ use of tax havens allows them to avoid an estimated $90 billion in federal income taxes each year.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Tax

Deepwater Horizon Settlement Comes with $5.35 Billion Tax Windfall

Today’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Justice of a proposed $20.8 billion out-of-court settlement with BP to resolve charges related to the Gulf Oil spill allows the corporation to write off $15.3 billion of the total payment as an ordinary cost of doing business tax deduction. The majority of the settlement is comprised of tax deductible natural resource damages payments, restoration, and reimbursement to government, with just $5.5 billion explicitly labeled a non-tax-deductible Clean Water Act penalty. This proposed settlement would allow BP to claim $5.35 billion as a tax windfall, significantly decreasing the public value of the agreement, and nearly offsetting the cost of the non-deductible penalty.

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Media Hit | Tax

Your View: Time to end the corporate tax dodge

As summer arrives and hard-working Bay Staters stretch back on sandy shores, many of the corporations that do business here are also taking advantage of places like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands — to dodge their share of taxes. But last week a public hearing at the Statehouse discussed closing a key loophole that currently allows multinational companies to use offshore tax havens to avoid paying Massachusetts taxes.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

MASSPIRG PRAISES BIPARTISAN BILL REINTRODUCTION PROHIBITING TAX WRITE-OFFS FOR WRONGDOING

Today in Washington DC, U.S. Senate leaders Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Jack Reed (D-RI) reintroduced The Government Settlement Transparency and Reform Act, which would restrict the ability for corporations to reap massive tax write-offs from payments made to settle allegations of misconduct or criminal wrongdoing.  

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News Release | MASSPIRG EDUCATION FUND | Tax

Study: 70% of Fortune 500 Companies Used Tax Havens in 2013

Tax loopholes encouraged more than 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies – including some companies headquartered in Massachusetts – to maintain subsidiaries in offshore tax havens as of 2013, according to “Offshore Shell Games,” released today by MASSPIRG Education Fund and Citizens for Tax Justice.

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News Release | MASSPIRG EDUCATION FUND | Budget, Tax

Poll: Public Wants Federal Agencies to Disclose and Restrict Corporate Tax Write Offs for Out-of-Court Settlements

In recent years, public outrage has built as federal agencies have allowed out-of-court settlements for corporate wrongdoing — like BP’s gulf oil spill and JPMorgan’s toxic mortgages — to be written off for multibillion-dollar tax breaks. See new poll confirming public outrage and support for solutions.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average MA Taxpayer $1,886 a Year, MA Small Business $6,269

As hardworking Americans file their taxes today, it’s a good time to be reminded of how ordinary taxpayers pick up the tab for the loopholes in our tax laws. 

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News Release | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Budget

New Report: Massachusetts Receives an "A-" in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending

Massachusetts received an A- when it comes to government spending transparency, according to “Following the Money 2014: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data,” the fifth annual report of its kind by the MASSPIRG Education Fund. 

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Report | MASSPIRG EDUCATION FUND | Tax

Offshore Shell Games

Tax loopholes encouraged more than 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies – including some companies headquartered in Massachusetts – to maintain subsidiaries in offshore tax havens. Collectively, the companies reported booking nearly $2 trillion offshore for tax purposes, with just 30 companies accounting for 62 percent of the total, or $1.2 trillion.

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Report | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

Picking up the Tab 2014: Average Citizens and Small Businesses Pay the Price for Offshore Tax Havens

As hardworking Americans file their taxes today, check out this report to see how ordinary taxpayers pick up the tab for the loopholes in our tax laws.

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Budget

Following the Money 2014

How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data.

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Report | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

Closing the Billion Dollar Loophole

Massachusetts taxpayers could save $79 million from a simple reform to crack down on offshore tax dodging, according to a new report.

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Report | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

Picking Up the Tab 2013

Off Shore Tax Havens Cost Average Massachusetts Taxpayers $1,542 a Year.

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