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 | 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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Media Hit | Budget, Tax

JPMorgan should get no tax deduction in settlement deal

Taxpayers should not pay for corporate wrong doing.

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Blog Post | Budget, Tax

4 REASONS LAWMAKERS ARE SCRUTINIZING HOW COMPANIES TURN SETTLEMENTS FROM WRONGDOING INTO TAX WRITE OFFS | Deirdre Cummings

When a company must pay a penalty for wrongdoing, should the public also shoulder a hidden subsidy for the corporation? Four factors are bringing this issue to a head.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

Groups call for Transparency and Accountability of Corporate Tax Breaks

MASSPIRG calls on State House Committee to make corporate tax breaks more transparent and accountable.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

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

With Tax Day approaching, it’s a good time to be reminded of where our tax dollars are going. MASSPIRG  released a new study which revealed that the average Massachusetts  taxpayer in 2012 would have to shoulder an extra $1,542 in taxes to make up for the revenue lost due to the use of offshore tax havens by corporations and wealthy individuals.

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Media Hit | Budget, Tax

On-Line Retail Tax Subsidy

Deirdre Cummings, legislative director for the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group, told Tax Analysts on November 13 that the rationale for such favorable tax treatment no longer applies.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Democracy, Tax

New Film Exposes Growing Use of Corporate Tax Havens

“The subject of this movie couldn’t be more timely, with taxes front-and-center this election season,” said Deirdre Cummings, legislative director of MASSPIRG. “Gaming the system and dodging taxes is not a right or left issue—it is a citizen issue with tremendous consequences for every resident of the Commonwealth and for every American.”

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Media Hit | Budget, Tax

We Need A Win

By their very nature, anonymous shell corporations are a problem that remains under the radar. Anyone can easily set up an anonymous corporation, but Massachusetts, as well as Connecticut and Maine, are uniquely positioned to play a key role in shutting them down.

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Media Hit | Budget, Food, Tax

Farm Bill needs to Cut the Fat

Of the $277 billion spent on agricultural subsidies since 1995, 75 percent of the total went to just 3.8 percent of U.S. farmers, skewed towards the largest farms — not small family farms. Massachusetts consumers’ share of the cost for junk food subsidies is about $22.6 million each year on average, compared with just under $800,000 in subsidies for apples. That’s enough to buy 61 million Twinkies, but only 1.6 million apples.

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Media Hit | Budget, Tax

State's tax breaks must be subject to accountability, transparency

Massachusetts has more than doubled special targeted tax breaks to businesses since 1996, with costs to the state budget topping $770 million last year. It is troubling that many programs funded through business tax breaks lack clear goals, much less any way to measure progress toward those goals or ability to reclaim tax breaks that fail to deliver results.

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Out of the Shadows

In Massachusetts, quasi-public agencies perform vital government functions, delivering essential services such as operating public buses and rail systems, delivering drinking water and managing public pensions.Unfortunately, quasi-public authorities operate largely under the radar in Massachusetts, this study uses data provided to us by the quasi-public agencies in response to public records requests, as well as public audits and online searches, to examine the size and scope of quasi-public agencies in Massachusetts and the extent to which their budgets and decision-making are open to the

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Tax Shell Game

The IRS estimates that individuals and corporations currently hold $5 trillion in tax haven countries and asserts that the United States is responsible for a large portion of these assets.

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Following the Money

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

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Report | Good Jobs First | Budget, Financial Reform, Tax

Show Us the Stimulus (Again)

A report released today shows that many states are making dramatic improvements in websites designed to disseminate information about their share of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), while others have failed to make vital information available.

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