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: 70% of Fortune 500 Companies Used Tax Havens in 2013

Tax loopholes encouraged more than 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies – including some companies headquartered in Massachusetts – to maintain subsidiaries in offshore tax havens as of 2013, according to “Offshore Shell Games,” released today by MASSPIRG Education Fund and Citizens for Tax Justice.

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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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News Release | MASSPIRG EDUCATION FUND | Budget, Tax

Poll: Public Wants Federal Agencies to Disclose and Restrict Corporate Tax Write Offs for Out-of-Court Settlements

In recent years, public outrage has built as federal agencies have allowed out-of-court settlements for corporate wrongdoing — like BP’s gulf oil spill and JPMorgan’s toxic mortgages — to be written off for multibillion-dollar tax breaks. See new poll confirming public outrage and support for solutions.

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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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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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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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Tax Shell Game

National elected leaders have recently proposed a range of spending cuts. The vast majority of these cuts come from programs widely viewed as providing broad public benefits or serving national priorities, including programs providing access to higher education, food safety, product safety, clean air and drinking water, and financial sector oversight to protect consumers and avoid future bank bailouts. In addressing the deficit, our leaders should examine all areas of spending where programs do not deliver benefits to the public.

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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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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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