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 | 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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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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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 | Budget

Following the Money 2014

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

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News Release | MASSPIRG EDUCATION FUND | Budget, Tax

MA Could Save $79 Million Curbing Offshore Tax Dodging

Massachusetts taxpayers could save $79 million from a simple reform to crack down on offshore tax dodging. MASSPIRG and small businesses owners call for reform.

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News Release | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Budget, Tax

Transparency In City Spending

New report reviews and grades the nation’s thirty largest cities including Boston on how effectively they allow the public to track budgets, contracting, subsidies, grants and requests for quality-of-life services.

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Media Hit | Tax

Look offshore to avert the fiscal cliff

There are better ways to use $150 billion than having it sit in a P.O. box in the Caymans. With the fiscal cliff on the horizon, closing offshore tax loopholes should be an obvious first step to solving our budget woes.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

First Step to Avoid the Fiscal Cliff: Close Offshore Tax Loopholes

With Congress scrambling to agree on ways to reduce the deficit, MASSPIRG joined with business, legislative and community leaders today to point out a clear first step to avoid the “fiscal cliff”: closing offshore tax loopholes. Many of America’s largest corporations and wealthiest individuals use accounting gimmicks to shift profits made in America to offshore tax havens, where they pay little to no taxes.  This kind of tax avoidance costs the federal government $150 billion in tax revenue each year.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

This Time, BP Settlement Protects Taxpayers

Taxpayers protected. BP not allowed to write of legal settlement from Gulf oil spill.


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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

True Amount of BP Settlement Will Depend on Hidden Tax Giveaways

BP agreed today to a $4.5 billion settlement to resolve felony and misdemeanor charges related to the gulf oil spill, but taxpayers may end up indirectly covering up to 35 percent of the amount if the company is allowed to take the amount as a tax write off.

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Report | Budget, Food

Apples to Twinkies

As nutritionists and researchers tell us to cut down on junk food, federal agricultural policy is busily making the problem worse.

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Toward Common Ground

This report documents the joint findings of the National Taxpayers Union and U.S. PIRG, identifying mutually acceptable deficit reductions.

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Tax Shell Game

National elected leaders have recently proposed a range of spending cuts. The vast majority of these cuts come from programs widely viewed as providing broad public benefits or serving national priorities, including programs providing access to higher education, food safety, product safety, clean air and drinking water, and financial sector oversight to protect consumers and avoid future bank bailouts. In addressing the deficit, our leaders should examine all areas of spending where programs do not deliver benefits to the public.

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Following the Money 2011

This report is U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s second annual ranking of states’ progress toward “Transparency 2.0” – a new standard of comprehensive, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility.The past year has seen continued progress, with new states providing online access to government spending information and several states pioneering new tools to further expand citizens’ access to spending information and engagement with government.

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Report | National Taxpayers Union (NTU) | Budget, Financial Reform, Tax

Toward Common Ground

Our nation faces unprecedented fiscal challenges, as the commitments we’ve made now and into the future far outpace our fiscal capacity. Congress, the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and citizens across the country must grapple with very difficult decisions about how we can put our fiscal house in order. It will be critical to reach out across party lines and across ideological persuasions to achieve common-sense reforms that can bring us closer to balance.

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