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

Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average MA Taxpayer $1,886 a Year, MA Small Business $6,269

As hardworking Americans file their taxes today, it’s a good time to be reminded of how ordinary taxpayers pick up the tab for the loopholes in our tax laws. 

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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 Education Fund | Budget

New Report: Massachusetts Receives an "A-" in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending

Massachusetts received an A- when it comes to government spending transparency, according to “Following the Money 2014: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data,” the fifth annual report of its kind by the MASSPIRG Education Fund. 

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Budget

Following the Money 2014

How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data.

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News Release | MASSPIRG EDUCATION FUND | Budget, Tax

MA Could Save $79 Million Curbing Offshore Tax Dodging

Massachusetts taxpayers could save $79 million from a simple reform to crack down on offshore tax dodging. MASSPIRG and small businesses owners call for reform.

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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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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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Following the Money 2011

This report is U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s second annual ranking of states’ progress toward “Transparency 2.0” – a new standard of comprehensive, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility.The past year has seen continued progress, with new states providing online access to government spending information and several states pioneering new tools to further expand citizens’ access to spending information and engagement with government.

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Report | National Taxpayers Union (NTU) | Budget, Financial Reform, Tax

Toward Common Ground

Our nation faces unprecedented fiscal challenges, as the commitments we’ve made now and into the future far outpace our fiscal capacity. Congress, the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and citizens across the country must grapple with very difficult decisions about how we can put our fiscal house in order. It will be critical to reach out across party lines and across ideological persuasions to achieve common-sense reforms that can bring us closer to balance.

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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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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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