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

Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Budget, Tax

Getting Our Money's Worth?

The people of Massachusetts deserve to know how their tax dollars are spent, including on tax subsidies for businesses. Full transparency allows citizens to hold lawmakers, government contractors, and recipients of public subsidies accountable. It also promotes fiscal responsibility, checks corruption, and bolsters public confidence in government.

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Blog Post | Budget, Tax

New Legislation to Close Off Shore Tax Haven Loopholes - Will Save Taxpayers $200 Million | Deirdre Cummings

New bill filed in Washington to close off shore tax haven loopholes. 

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News Release | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Budget, Tax

Offshore Tax Dodging Blows a $1.6 Billion Hole in Massachusetts Budget

With Massachusetts in the midst of a budget crisis, MASSPIRG, joined by business leaders and elected officials, released a new study revealing that Massachusetts lost $1.6 billion due to offshore tax dodging in 2012. Many of America’s wealthiest individuals and largest corporations, including Wells Fargo, Citigroup, McDonalds, Target, Costco, Exxon Mobil, Intel, and Coca-Cola, and Sears  use tax loopholes to shift profits made in America to offshore tax havens, where they pay little to no taxes.

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Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Budget, Tax

The Hidden Costs of Offshore Tax Havens

When U.S. corporations and wealthy individuals use offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes to the federal government, it is an abuse of our tax system. Tax haven abusers benefit from our markets, infrastructure, educated workforce, and security, but they pay next to nothing for these benefits. Ultimately, taxpayers must pick up the tab, either in the form of higher taxes, cuts to public spending priorities, or increased national debt. Massachusetts alone lost $1.66 billion in 2012.

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Media Hit | Budget, Tax

Bill aims to woo Broadway-bound shows

Deirdre Cummings, the legislative director for the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group, does not want any new tax credits until there is a proper study done to determine the value of existing credits.

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News Release | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Budget, Tax

Average Massachusetts Taxpayer Would Have to Pay $636 to Make Up for Offshore Tax Haven Abuse, Small Businesses, $3,349

“When corporations shirk their tax burden by shifting profits legitimately made in the U.S. to offshore tax havens like the Caymans, the rest of us must pick up the tab through either cuts to public spending priorities, higher taxes, or more debt...”

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Media Hit | Tax

Boston Globe - State tax code reforms are long overdue

Legislative Director, Deirdre Cummings, responds to “Panel to urge fewer tax breaks’’ as it perfectly illustrates the need for significant reform in the state tax code.

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News Release | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Democracy, Tax

Thirty Companies Contribute $41 Million to 524 Members of Congress, Receive $10.6 Billion in Tax Rebates

A new report released Wednesday, March 21st by MASSPIRG Education Fund and Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) found that thirty tax dodging corporations have made campaign contributions to 524 (98%) sitting members of Congress, and disproportionately to the leadership of both parties and to key committee members

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Budget, Tax

Ryan Budget a Windfall for Special Interests, Devastating to Public Priorities

Statement of MASSPIRG Legislative Director on the Federal FY 2013 budget proposed by Chairman Paul Ryan (Wisconsin) of the House Budget Committee.

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News Release | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Budget, Tax

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

“Massachusetts has moved to the head of the class when it comes to providing the public with easy-to-use, one-stop, comprehensive and timely information about how government spends our tax dollars,” said Deirdre Cummings, Legislative Director of MASSPIRG.

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Report | Budget, Tax

MASSPIRG's 5 Point Plan for Fair Tax and Budget Policy

Public money should be spent for the most effective pursuit of clear public benefits or to encourage beneficial behaviors undervalued by the market. Taxes should be fair, reliable, transparent, and guided by policy goals rather than political deals. Budgeting should similarly be open, accountable, and follow long-term planning.

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2006 Congressional Score Card

The 2006 Scorecard looks at the most important public interest votes taken between February 9, 2005 and February 1, 2006 in the U.S. Congress. These votes determined the direction of federal policy on critical issues ranging from environmental preservation to health care to consumer protections.

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Report | Budget, Higher Ed

Easy Money

Over the last three decades, higher education has become an even greater necessity for all Americans. Our citizens know that the key to economic success for them and their children is to invest in education.

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Report | Budget

Major League Steal

The Red Sox are proposing to construct a 44,130 seat stadium on 15 acres of land adjacent to the present Fenway Park. The Owners of the Red Sox are poised to seek a minimum of $250 million in state and local taxpayer subsidies for the $600 million plus project.

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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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