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

Report | MASSPIRG EDUCATION FUND | Budget, Tax

Following the Money 2015: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data

Every year, state governments spend hundreds of billions of dollars through contracts for goods and services, subsidies to encourage economic development, and other expenditures. Accountability and public scrutiny are necessary to ensure that the public can trust that state funds are spent as well as possible.

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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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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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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 Education Fund | Budget

MA Receives an “A-” in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending

 

“State governments across the country continue to be more transparent about where the money goes, extending checkbook-level disclosure of data on spending to contracting, tax subsidies, development incentives and other expenditures,” said Deirdre Cummings, Legislative Director of MASSPIRG. “Massachusetts’ spending website is one of the best in the country when it comes to making state spending transparent and accessible.”

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News Release | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Budget, Tax

Getting our Money’s Worth?

As Massachusetts kicks off its months-long state budget deliberations, MASSPIRG Education Fund released a new study today that reviews a much-debated and costly category of state spending.

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News Release | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Budget, Tax

Offshore Tax Dodging Blows a $1.6 Billion Hole in Massachusetts Budget

With Massachusetts in the midst of a budget crisis, MASSPIRG, joined by business leaders and elected officials, released a new study revealing that Massachusetts lost $1.6 billion due to offshore tax dodging in 2012. Many of America’s wealthiest individuals and largest corporations, including Wells Fargo, Citigroup, McDonalds, Target, Costco, Exxon Mobil, Intel, and Coca-Cola, and Sears  use tax loopholes to shift profits made in America to offshore tax havens, where they pay little to no taxes.

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Media Hit | Budget, Tax

Bill aims to woo Broadway-bound shows

Deirdre Cummings, the legislative director for the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group, does not want any new tax credits until there is a proper study done to determine the value of existing credits.

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Media Hit | Budget, Tax

City faulted on spending transparency

New report grades trancparency Boston's spending. 

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Democracy, Tax

Loopholes for Sale

Recent polls show a large majority of Americans, including small business owners, are convinced that profitable corporations are not paying enough in taxes. Citizens for Tax Justice and U.S. PIRG’s Loopholes for Sale pursues the intersection of corporate campaign contributions to members of Congress and the absence of Congressional action to close corporate tax loopholes and raise additional revenue from corporate taxes. The report includes the following findings:

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Budget, Tax

Following the Money 2012

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. Transparency in government spending promotes fiscal responsibility, checks corruption, and bolsters public confidence

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Report | Budget, Tax

Representation Without Taxation

Fortune 500 Companies that Spend Big on Lobbying and Avoid Taxes

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Report | Good Jobs First | Budget, Tax

Money for Something

States are spending billions of dollars per year on corporate tax credits, cash grants and other economic development subsidies that often require little if any job creation and lack wage and benefit standards covering workers at subsidized companies. These are the key findings of Money for Something: Job Creation and Job Quality Standards in State Economic Development Subsidy Programs, a 51-state “report card” study published today by Good Jobs First, a non-profit, non-partisan research center based in Washington, DC

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Budget, Tax

Tax-Increment Financing

Tax-increment financing (TIF) has been a leading tool for economic development.  When used properly, TIF can promote enduring growth and stronger communities. When used improperly, however, TIF can waste taxpayer resources or channel money to politically favored special interests.

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