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 EDUCATION FUND | Tax

Study: List of Fortune 500 Companies Used Tax Havens in 2015

List of Fortune 500 companies using off shore tax havens to dodge taxes. 

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Report | MASSPIRG EDUCATION FUND | Tax

Offshore Shell Games 2016

New report shows which Fortune 500 companies stashed over $2 trillion in profits to avoid paying more than 200 billion in taxes.

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Budget

Getting Personal with Chemicals

We should be able to trust that the products we buy are safe — especially ones our families use every day, directly on our bodies. However, chemicals of concern are routinely found in many of our day-to-day personal care products, ranging from Dial bar soap to Suave kids’ shampoo, according to Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group Education Fund's investigation of common consumer products.

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Tax

Following the Money 2016

 

State governments spend hundreds of billions of dollars each year through contracts for goods and services, subsidies to encourage economic development, and other expenditures. Public accountability helps ensure that state funds are spent as wisely as possible.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Tax

Deepwater Horizon Settlement Comes with $5.35 Billion Tax Windfall

Today’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Justice of a proposed $20.8 billion out-of-court settlement with BP to resolve charges related to the Gulf Oil spill allows the corporation to write off $15.3 billion of the total payment as an ordinary cost of doing business tax deduction. The majority of the settlement is comprised of tax deductible natural resource damages payments, restoration, and reimbursement to government, with just $5.5 billion explicitly labeled a non-tax-deductible Clean Water Act penalty. This proposed settlement would allow BP to claim $5.35 billion as a tax windfall, significantly decreasing the public value of the agreement, and nearly offsetting the cost of the non-deductible penalty.

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Media Hit | Tax

Your View: Time to end the corporate tax dodge

As summer arrives and hard-working Bay Staters stretch back on sandy shores, many of the corporations that do business here are also taking advantage of places like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands — to dodge their share of taxes. But last week a public hearing at the Statehouse discussed closing a key loophole that currently allows multinational companies to use offshore tax havens to avoid paying Massachusetts taxes.

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News Release | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Tax

Lawmakers Call for Closing Off Shore Tax Haven Loophole

As Tax Day approaches tomorrow, it’s a good time to be reminded of how ordinary taxpayers and specifically small businesses pick up the tab for offshore tax loopholes used by many large multinational corporations. MASSPIRG was joined today by Representatives Josh Cutler (D-Duxbury) and Lenny Mirra (R-West Newbury), Senator Mark Montigny (D-NewBedford) and Massachusetts Fair Share to release a new study by the MASSPIRG Education Fund revealing that the average Massachusetts small business owner would have to pay an extra $4,031 in state and federal taxes to make up for the money lost in 2014 due to offshore tax haven abuse by large multinational corporations and to call for the passage of a state bill to close one of the loopholes.

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News Release | MASSPIRG EDUCATION FUND | Budget, Tax

Massachusetts Receives "A" in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending

Massachusetts received an ‘A’ when it comes to government spending transparency.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

MASSPIRG PRAISES BIPARTISAN BILL REINTRODUCTION PROHIBITING TAX WRITE-OFFS FOR WRONGDOING

Today in Washington DC, U.S. Senate leaders Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Jack Reed (D-RI) reintroduced The Government Settlement Transparency and Reform Act, which would restrict the ability for corporations to reap massive tax write-offs from payments made to settle allegations of misconduct or criminal wrongdoing.  

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Tax

Picking Up the Tab 2015

Every year, corporations and wealthy individuals use complicated gimmicks to shift U.S. earnings to subsidiaries in offshore tax havens – countries with minimal or no taxes – in order to reduce their federal and state income tax liabilities by billions of dollars. While tax haven abusers benefit from America’s markets, public infrastructure, educated workforce, security and rule of law – all supported in one way or another by tax dollars – they continue to avoid paying for these benefits. 

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Budget, Tax

Picking Up The Tab 2015: Small Businesses Pay the Price for Offshore Tax Havens

Every year, corporations and wealthy individuals use complicated gimmicks to shift U.S. earnings to subsidiaries in offshore tax havens – countries with minimal or no taxes – in order to reduce their federal and state income tax liabilities by billions of dollars. While tax haven abusers benefit from America’s markets, public infrastructure, educated workforce, security and rule of law – all supported in one way or another by tax dollars – they continue to avoid paying for these benefits.

> Keep Reading
Report | MASSPIRG EDUCATION FUND | Budget, Tax

Following the Money 2015: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data

Every year, state governments spend hundreds of billions of dollars through contracts for goods and services, subsidies to encourage economic development, and other expenditures. Accountability and public scrutiny are necessary to ensure that the public can trust that state funds are spent as well as possible.

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Report | MASSPIRG EDUCATION FUND | Tax

Offshore Shell Games

Tax loopholes encouraged more than 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies – including some companies headquartered in Massachusetts – to maintain subsidiaries in offshore tax havens. Collectively, the companies reported booking nearly $2 trillion offshore for tax purposes, with just 30 companies accounting for 62 percent of the total, or $1.2 trillion.

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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

Boston -- Massachusetts received a “C” for making critical information about how governments are subsidizing business projects with taxpayer dollars readily available to the public online, according to a new report from MASSPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group. Following the Money 2019, the organization’s tenth evaluation of online government spending transparency, gives 17 states a failing grade, while only four states received a grade of “B” or higher.

Report | MASSPIRG

Boston -- Massachusetts received a “C” for making critical information about how governments are subsidizing business projects with taxpayer dollars readily available to the public online, according to a new report from MASSPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group. Following the Money 2019, the organization’s tenth evaluation of online government spending transparency, gives 17 states a failing grade, while only four states received a grade of “B” or higher.

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. 

Budget

Following the Money 2019

Our 10th report on government spending transparency rates all 50 states on the degree to which they make information about corporate tax breaks and other subsidies available online.

 

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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