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YOUR ARTICLE “Panel to urge fewer tax breaks’’ (Page A1, March 20) perfectly illustrates the need for significant reform in the state tax code, which allows for 200 tax breaks and exemptions that give away $4 billion more than the Commonwealth takes in.
Tax expenditures have the same bottom-line effect on state budgets as direct state spending, since they must be offset by program cuts or increased taxes. Once created, tax expenditures often escape oversight because they do not appear as a line item in the state budget, and rarely require legislative approval to renew. For these reasons, spending through the tax code should be subject to rigorous scrutiny; common-sense reforms are long overdue.
Every tax break must include a stated purpose, both the program and the recipients must be evaluated relative to that purpose, and each break should be reviewed regularly to assess its relative merits.
Further, tax expenditures must meet the same transparency requirements as all other state spending. We can’t measure or evaluate what we don’t know or can’t see, and the absence of this information leads to inefficiencies and a lack of accountability, and wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars.
Tax and budget policy director
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