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

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 Education Fund | 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
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
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

Pages

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
News Release | Illinois PIRG | Tax

Report Exposes How Taxpayers Bear Cost of Corporate Settlements

A report released today spotlights a common practice where corporations that commit wrongdoing and agree to financial settlements with the federal government, go on to claim such settlement payments as tax-deductible business expenses. The new study, released by the Illinois Public Interest Research Group (Illinois PIRG), follows a record year of corporate settlements, while many more settlements relating to banking, environmental, and consumer safety issues are expected.

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

Progress Report: Promised Reforms to Protect Chicago Tax Dollars ‘Incomplete’

 

Yesterday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that he will be immediately implementing some of the reforms proposed by his TIF Reform Panel five months ago. Today, watchdog group Illinois PIRG Education Fund released a report on the need to fix TIF and called for all of the Mayor’s recommendations to become law.

 

> Keep Reading

Pages

Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | 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
Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Tax

Cleaning Up Tax Increment Financing

 

Every year, $500 million worth of property tax revenue collected in Chicago flows into funding pools shielded from public scrutiny and democratic control—the bank accounts of the city’s Tax-Increment Financing (TIF) districts.  That money—10 percent of Chicago’s annual property tax revenue—is intended to promote development in struggling areas of the city, but the fashion in which it has been handled in the past—without full transparency, democratic oversight, or accountability for the recipients of funds—has opened the door to misuse of public money.

 

> Keep Reading

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For more on transparent and accountable government, read our blog, Tax Dollars and Sense.

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