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

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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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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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 | Budget, Tax

Report Card Grades States on Economic Development Subsidies

In new report Money for Something, a 51-state “report card” released today by Good Jobs First, Massachusetts ranked 43 out 51  in performance and job quality standards in economic development subsidies.   

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

Report Shows Corporations Paying Few State Taxes

A comprehensive new study, from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, profiles the 265 consistently profitable Fortune 500 corporations finding that 68 companies paid no state corporate income tax in at least one of the last three years and 20 of these corporations averaged a tax rate of zero or less during the 2008-2010 period.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

New State Spending Website Launched

MASSPIRG joined government leaders today as they officially unveiled their new, easy-to-use comprehensive state spending website at the State House Library.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

Supercommittee Squanders Opportunity to Cut Waste

After the Congressional “Supercommittee” announced its failure to agree on at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction, the MASSPIRG and National Taxpayers Union (NTU), who jointly authored a report on deficit reduction earlier this year, released the following joint statement.

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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 State House legislative committee held a public hearing today on a new bill that could help the state recoup $699 million dollars even without further reforms from Congress. The bill, HB 3787, 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.

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.

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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