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

Getting Our Money's Worth?

The people of Massachusetts deserve to know how their tax dollars are spent, including on tax subsidies for businesses. Full transparency allows citizens to hold lawmakers, government contractors, and recipients of public subsidies accountable. It also promotes fiscal responsibility, checks corruption, and bolsters public confidence in government.

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Blog Post | Budget, Tax

New Legislation to Close Off Shore Tax Haven Loopholes - Will Save Taxpayers $200 Million | Deirdre Cummings

New bill filed in Washington to close off shore tax haven loopholes. 

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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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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Budget, Tax

The Hidden Costs of Offshore Tax Havens

When U.S. corporations and wealthy individuals use offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes to the federal government, it is an abuse of our tax system. Tax haven abusers benefit from our markets, infrastructure, educated workforce, and security, but they pay next to nothing for these benefits. Ultimately, taxpayers must pick up the tab, either in the form of higher taxes, cuts to public spending priorities, or increased national debt. Massachusetts alone lost $1.66 billion in 2012.

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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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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget

Deirdre Cummings, Legislative Director, Comments on Recently Approved Tax Expenditure Commission Report

MASSPIRG commends the work of the bi-partisan Tax  Expenditure Commission and the approval of their final report today which will be filed in the legislature before April 30, 2012.

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Media Hit | Tax

Liberty Mutual critics decry executive’s pay package

The revelation that Liberty Mutual paid chairman Edmund F. “Ted’’ Kelly about $200 million during the past four years has angered some customers and watchdog groups. MASSPIRG's Deirdre Cummings provides her insight.

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Media Hit | Budget, Tax

Taunton Daily Gazette - The real cost of off- shore tax havens

Many Americans would be shocked to hear about an invisible tax burden put on them this year by some of the largest, most profitable corporations that use offshore tax havens to avoid paying their full tax bill. This tax dodging costs taxpayers an estimated $100 billion every single year.

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News Release | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Budget, Tax

Average Massachusetts Taxpayer Would Have to Pay $636 to Make Up for Offshore Tax Haven Abuse, Small Businesses, $3,349

“When corporations shirk their tax burden by shifting profits legitimately made in the U.S. to offshore tax havens like the Caymans, the rest of us must pick up the tab through either cuts to public spending priorities, higher taxes, or more debt...”

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Media Hit | Tax

Boston Globe - State tax code reforms are long overdue

Legislative Director, Deirdre Cummings, responds to “Panel to urge fewer tax breaks’’ as it perfectly illustrates the need for significant reform in the state tax code.

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Report | Budget, Tax

Transparency.GOV 2.0

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

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Forgiving Fraud and Failure

Companies with immediate past histories of shoddy work and fraudulent practices are being rewarded with billions of dollars in federal contracts. The data suggest that the process by which the federal government currently spends $422 billion per year in taxpayer funds is insufficient to ensure that the American people receive good quality for goods and services purchased for the American people.

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Report | Budget, Tax

MASSPIRG's 5 Point Plan for Fair Tax and Budget Policy

Public money should be spent for the most effective pursuit of clear public benefits or to encourage beneficial behaviors undervalued by the market. Taxes should be fair, reliable, transparent, and guided by policy goals rather than political deals. Budgeting should similarly be open, accountable, and follow long-term planning.

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2006 Congressional Score Card

The 2006 Scorecard looks at the most important public interest votes taken between February 9, 2005 and February 1, 2006 in the U.S. Congress. These votes determined the direction of federal policy on critical issues ranging from environmental preservation to health care to consumer protections.

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