Transparent & Accountable Government

AVOIDING BAD DEALS — Illinois PIRG volunteers set up in front of City Hall to raise awareness of the need for government transparency. The long-term impact on Chicago taxpayers resulting from the parking meter privatization might have been avoided had city officials been transparent about the plan and given citizens a chance to influence the terms of the lease before it was approved.

BUDGET DEALS AND THE PUBLIC INTEREST

As our cities and state confront budget deficits, accountability and transparency should be the rule. That includes avoiding budget gimmicks like last-minute privatization deals and borrowing against future tax revenues (called tax increment financing) to give handouts to special interests.

From Springfield to local City Halls, Illinois PIRG advocates improving fiscal policy to stop special-interest giveaways, increase budget transparency and accountability, eliminate waste, and ensure that subsidies or tax breaks serve the public.

Specifically, Illinois PIRG is working to protect the public from bad deals in so-called tax increment financing by:

  1. Making sure that any borrowing against future tax revenue is targeted and temporary. This policy should only be used in service of a specific development strategy, and it should only be directed to areas in special need of development, and for projects that are unlikely to occur without public intervention and with a defined time limit.
  2. Subsidy recipients must be held accountable for meeting goals. Contract agreements should include measurable targets for success and regular performance reviews. And if development promises are not fulfilled, municipalities should be able to demand the return of some or all of the money.
  3. Information on these deals must be transparent. Because of the long-term implications, the decision to borrow against future tax revenues should come with the highest level of transparency and public participation. Citizens must have the tools to evaluate the benefits and trade-offs in their own community. 

Read more on our blog, Tax Dollars and Sense.

Issue updates

Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund and Citizens for Tax Justice | Tax

Offshore Shell Games 2014

Many large U.S.-based multinational corporations avoid paying U.S. taxes by using accounting tricks to make profits made in America appear to be generated in offshore tax havens—countries with minimal or no taxes. By booking profits to subsidiaries registered in tax havens, multinational corporations are able to avoid an estimated $90 billion in federal income taxes each year. These subsidiaries are often shell companies with few, if any employees, and which engage in little to no real business activity.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Illinois PIRG 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 Abbot Labs and Caterpillar – to maintain subsidiaries in offshore tax havens as of 2013, according to the report “Offshore Shell Games,” released today by Illinois PIRG Education Fund and Citizens for Tax Justice. 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.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Tax

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

A new poll released today confirms what has long been apparent: The public overwhelmingly disapproves of corporations taking tax write offs for out-of-court settlements for wrongdoing, and has a strong preference for federal agencies to be both more transparent and more restrictive of tax deductions for future settlements. Substantial majorities across party lines would support reforms and greater transparency.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Tax

Illinois could save $108 million with simple, proven method to curb offshore tax dodging, new study finds

A simple reform, which has already been proven effective in Montana and passed in Oregon, would require companies to treat profits booked to notorious tax havens as domestic taxable income.

> Keep Reading
Report | Illinois PIRG | Tax

Closing The Billion Dollar Loophole

New report tells how some states have found a simple reform to reclaim significant revenue lost to offshore tax havens. Includes estimates of how much each state loses in state revenue to offshore tax haven abuse and how much each state would gain by closing the "water's edge" loophole.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | Illinois PIRG 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 Abbot Labs and Caterpillar – to maintain subsidiaries in offshore tax havens as of 2013, according to the report “Offshore Shell Games,” released today by Illinois PIRG Education Fund and Citizens for Tax Justice. 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.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Tax

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

A new poll released today confirms what has long been apparent: The public overwhelmingly disapproves of corporations taking tax write offs for out-of-court settlements for wrongdoing, and has a strong preference for federal agencies to be both more transparent and more restrictive of tax deductions for future settlements. Substantial majorities across party lines would support reforms and greater transparency.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Tax

Illinois could save $108 million with simple, proven method to curb offshore tax dodging, new study finds

A simple reform, which has already been proven effective in Montana and passed in Oregon, would require companies to treat profits booked to notorious tax havens as domestic taxable income.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Tax

JPMorgan Shouldn’t Receive Tax Windfall for London Whale Penalty

Unless regulators forbid JPMorgan Chase from writing off an $800 million settlement as a tax deduction, taxpayers could end up shouldering 35 percent of the cost of the settlement.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Budget, Tax

Offshore Tax Dodging Blows a $2.5 Billion Hole in Illinois’ Budget

With Illinois in the midst of a budget crisis, the Illinois PIRG Education Fund, joined by the Small Business Advocacy Council; Gail Glasser, a small business owner; and the Chicago Political Economy Group, released a new study revealing that Illinois lost $2.5 billion due to offshore tax dodging in 2012. Many of America’s wealthiest individuals and largest corporations use tax loopholes to shift profits made in America to offshore tax havens where they pay little to no taxes.

> Keep Reading

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Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund and Citizens for Tax Justice | Tax

Offshore Shell Games 2014

Many large U.S.-based multinational corporations avoid paying U.S. taxes by using accounting tricks to make profits made in America appear to be generated in offshore tax havens—countries with minimal or no taxes. By booking profits to subsidiaries registered in tax havens, multinational corporations are able to avoid an estimated $90 billion in federal income taxes each year. These subsidiaries are often shell companies with few, if any employees, and which engage in little to no real business activity.

> Keep Reading
Report | Illinois PIRG | Tax

Closing The Billion Dollar Loophole

New report tells how some states have found a simple reform to reclaim significant revenue lost to offshore tax havens. Includes estimates of how much each state loses in state revenue to offshore tax haven abuse and how much each state would gain by closing the "water's edge" loophole.

> Keep Reading
Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund & Frontier Group | Budget, Tax

The Hidden Cost 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.

> Keep Reading
Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Tax

Subsidizing Bad Behavior

BP’s recent $4.5 billion legal settlement with the Justice Department for its misdeeds in the Gulf oil spill was historic for being the largest ever criminal settlement. But it was historic for another reason as well—none of it is allowed to be tax deductible. Unfortunately, too many settlements for wrongdoing end up as tax deductions.

 

> Keep Reading
Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Tax

Following the Money 2012

This report is Illinois PIRG Education Fund’s third annual ranking of states’ progress toward “Transparency 2.0” – a new standard of comprehensive, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility.

> Keep Reading

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