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 | Tax

Picking Up the Tab 2016

Small business owners are hit twice by the effects of tax dodging by large multinational corporations.First, small businesses are placed at a competitive disadvantage because they rarely have subsidiaries in tax havens and the armies of tax lawyers and accountants necessary to exploit the loopholes that come with such subsidiaries. Second, as a result these small businesses—which pay their taxes without the loopholes—end up picking up the tab for offshore tax avoidavoidance in the form of higher taxes, cuts to public programs, or increases to the federal debt.

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

73% of Fortune 500 Companies Used Tax Havens in 2015

In 2015, more than 73 percent of Fortune 500 companies maintained subsidiaries in offshore tax havens, according to “Offshore Shell Games,” released today by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. Collectively, multinationals reported booking $2.5 trillion offshore, with just 30 companies accounting for 66 percent of this total. By indefinitely stashing profits in offshore tax havens, corporations are avoiding up to $717.8 billion in U.S. taxes. Here in Illinois, Abvie, Abbot Laboratories, Mondelez International, Caterpiller, and McDonalds combine to hold $98.5 billiion in offshore tax havens like the Bahamas, Caymen Islands, and Hong Kong.

> Keep Reading
Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Tax

Offshore Shell Games 2016

U.S.-based multinational corporations are allowed to play by a different set of rules than small and domestic businesses or individuals when it comes to paying taxes. Overall, multinational corporations use tax havens to avoid an estimated $100 billion in federal income taxes each year.

> Keep Reading
Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Tax

Settling for a Lack of Accountability?

When large companies harm the public through fraud, financial scams, chemical spills, dangerous products or other misdeeds, they almost never just pay a fine or penalty, as ordinary people would. Instead, these companies negotiate out-of-court settlements that resolve the charges in return for stipulated payments or promised remedies. These agreements, made on behalf of the American people, are not subject to any transparency standards and companies often write them off as tax deductions claimed as necessary and ordinary costs of doing business.

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

72% of Fortune 500 Companies Used Tax Havens in 2014

Tax loopholes encouraged more than 72 percent of Fortune 500 companies -- including 29 in Illinois -- to maintain subsidiaries in offshore tax havens as of 2014, according to “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 65 percent of the total, or $1.35 trillion.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Tax

73% of Fortune 500 Companies Used Tax Havens in 2015

In 2015, more than 73 percent of Fortune 500 companies maintained subsidiaries in offshore tax havens, according to “Offshore Shell Games,” released today by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. Collectively, multinationals reported booking $2.5 trillion offshore, with just 30 companies accounting for 66 percent of this total. By indefinitely stashing profits in offshore tax havens, corporations are avoiding up to $717.8 billion in U.S. taxes. Here in Illinois, Abvie, Abbot Laboratories, Mondelez International, Caterpiller, and McDonalds combine to hold $98.5 billiion in offshore tax havens like the Bahamas, Caymen Islands, and Hong Kong.

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

72% of Fortune 500 Companies Used Tax Havens in 2014

Tax loopholes encouraged more than 72 percent of Fortune 500 companies -- including 29 in Illinois -- to maintain subsidiaries in offshore tax havens as of 2014, according to “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 65 percent of the total, or $1.35 trillion.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Illinois PIRG | Tax

Illinois Small Businesses Foot $4,570 Bill from Offshore Tax Dodging

As Tax Day approaches, it’s important to remember that small businesses end up picking up the tab for offshore tax loopholes used by many large multinational corporations. Illinois PIRG released a new study today revealing that the average Illinois small business owner would have to pay an extra $4,570 in taxes to make up for the money lost in 2014 due to offshore tax haven abuse by large multinational corporations.  

> 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

Pages

Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Tax

Picking Up the Tab 2016

Small business owners are hit twice by the effects of tax dodging by large multinational corporations.First, small businesses are placed at a competitive disadvantage because they rarely have subsidiaries in tax havens and the armies of tax lawyers and accountants necessary to exploit the loopholes that come with such subsidiaries. Second, as a result these small businesses—which pay their taxes without the loopholes—end up picking up the tab for offshore tax avoidavoidance in the form of higher taxes, cuts to public programs, or increases to the federal debt.

> Keep Reading
Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Tax

Offshore Shell Games 2016

U.S.-based multinational corporations are allowed to play by a different set of rules than small and domestic businesses or individuals when it comes to paying taxes. Overall, multinational corporations use tax havens to avoid an estimated $100 billion in federal income taxes each year.

> Keep Reading
Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Tax

Settling for a Lack of Accountability?

When large companies harm the public through fraud, financial scams, chemical spills, dangerous products or other misdeeds, they almost never just pay a fine or penalty, as ordinary people would. Instead, these companies negotiate out-of-court settlements that resolve the charges in return for stipulated payments or promised remedies. These agreements, made on behalf of the American people, are not subject to any transparency standards and companies often write them off as tax deductions claimed as necessary and ordinary costs of doing business.

> Keep Reading
Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Tax

Offshore Shell Games 2015

U.S.-based multinational corporations are allowed to play by a different set of rules than small and domestic businesses or individuals when it comes to the tax code. Rather than paying their fair share, many multinational

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

Following the Money 2015

Every year, state governments spend hundreds of billions of dollars through contracts for goods and services, subsidies to encourage economic development, and other expenditures. Accountability and public scrutiny are necessary to ensure that the public can trust that state funds are spent as well as possible. 

> Keep Reading

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