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

Media Hit | Budget, Tax

City faulted on spending transparency

New report grades trancparency Boston's spending. 

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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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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Budget, Tax

Transparency In City Spending

The report reviews and grades the nation’s thirty largest cities including Boston on how effectively they allow the public to track city spending - including budgets, contracts, subsidies, and grants. 

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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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Media Hit | Budget, Tax

Boston Herald - Tug of war over TJX

Under a proposed 20-year agreement that would give TJX a big break on property taxes, the off-price retailer would move 1,600 employees from offices at 500 Old Connecticut Path in Framingham and Westboro to two buildings it plans to buy at 300 and 400 Puritan Way in Marlboro.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

Amendment Passes to Crack Down on Offshore Tax Cheats

Statement of MASSPIRG’s Deirdre Cummings on the passage of the U.S. Senate Amendment 1818, introduced by Senators Levin, Conrad, and Whitehouse to the Transportation Bill.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

White House Plan to Close Special Interest Tax Loopholes Is the Right Approach to Reform, But Details Matter

Statement by Deirdre Cummings, Legislative Director, MASSPIRG  in response to the White House announcement today proposing to eliminate tax loopholes and preferences. “The President has put forward the beginnings of a tax reform plan that takes the right approach, but is still missing critical details..."

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

Tax Havens Used by Romney and Large Corporations Cost Taxpayers Billions

Statement of MASSPIRG Legislative Director, Deirdre Cummings

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Tax

Thirty Fortune 500 Companies Paid More to Lobby Congress than they Did in Federal Income Taxes

With the second anniversary approaching of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case – which opened the floodgates to corporate spending on elections – MASSPIRG and Citizens for Tax Justice reveal 30 corporations that spent more to lobby Congress than they did in taxes.

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News Release | MASSPIRG

BOSTON -- Too many corporations dodge both state and federal taxes by shifting U.S. earnings to subsidiaries in offshore tax havens. However, a bill introduced on Beacon Hill could help the state recoup $699 million dollars even without further reforms from Congress. The bill, HD 1089, An Act relative to tax havens and complete reporting, filed by Representative Josh Cutler (Duxbury), would move the state to a “Complete Reporting” system, eliminating loopholes that allow companies to book profits made in the state offshore.

Report | MASSPIRG

Every year, corporations use complicated schemes to shift U.S. earnings to subsidiaries in offshore tax havens—countries with minimal or no taxes—in order to reduce their state and federal income tax liability by billions of dollars. This new report outline how states can prevent this practice. 

Blog Post

New story in the Boston Globe today found at least 19 "quasi-public" agencies in Massachusetts failed to publish millions of dollars in payroll and spending data on the state's transparency website as required by a MASSPIRG backed 2010 law that mandated the public disclosures. 

Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund

Massachusetts received a “B-” for its government spending transparency website, according to “Following the Money 2018: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data,” the eighth report of its kind.

News Release | US PIRG

Below is a statement from U.S. PIRG Program Advocate Michelle Surka on the proposed House tax bill's impacts on our debt:

“The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, introduced this morning in the House, is an exercise in fiscal recklessness, exploding the budget deficit while failing to close the biggest tax loopholes and relying on gimmicks to obscure the impact on the national debt. Rather than make prudent trade-offs to achieve the President's promised tax cuts, this bill twists itself into knots attempting to distract from the bottom line: it will add trillions to our deficit."

Budget | U.S. PIRG

Blueprint for tomorrow

Our report highlights which investments will alleviate the most dire problems America faces as a result of crumbling or outdated infrastructure.

 
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