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 | 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
Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Tax

Picking Up the Tab 2015

Every year, corporations and wealthy individuals use complicated gimmicks to shift U.S. earnings to subsidiaries in offshore tax havens – countries with minimal or no taxes – in order to reduce their federal and state income tax liabilities by billions of dollars. While tax haven abusers benefit from America’s markets, public infrastructure, educated workforce, security and rule of law – all supported in one way or another by tax dollars – they continue to avoid paying for these benefits.

> 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
News Release | Illinois PIRG | Tax

New Bill: No Federal Contracts for Companies that Renounce American Corporate Citizenship to Dodge Taxes

Statement of Illinois PIRG Tax and Budget Advocate Dan Smith on the introduction of the No Federal Contracts for Corporate Deserters Act, introduced by Senators Richard Durbin and Carl Levin in the Senate, and Reps. DeLauro and Doggett in the House.

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Tax

Guest Column: Walgreens: Europe’s neighborhood drugstore?

Recent reports indicate that Walgreens, our neighborhood drugstore that’s been proudly based in Illinois for 113 years, may be changing its address to Europe to avoid paying its fair share of taxes.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | Illinois PIRG | Tax

Taxpayers Win, as Justice Department Blocks Credit Suisse Tax Write Off

On Tuesday, the Justice Department acted in the best interests of taxpayers by blocking Credit Suisse from writing off their $2.6 billion settlement for aiding tax evasion. The unpublicized stipulation will likely save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by preventing the bank from treating the payment as an ordinary business cost on its taxes.

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Tax

Close corporate tax loopholes

"Many U.S.-based multinationals, which do their business here in the U.S. using our infrastructure and educated workforce, can make profitsearned here appear on the books in offshore tax havens. This tax haven abuse costs us $90 billion each year."

> 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 | Tax

Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average Illinois Taxpayer $1,396 a Year, Illinois Small Business $4,588

As hardworking Americans file their taxes today, it’s a good time to be reminded of how ordinary taxpayers pick up the tab for the loopholes in our tax laws. Illinois PIRG released a new study today entitled, “Picking up the Tab: Average Citizens and Small Businesses Pay the Price for Offshore Tax Havens” which revealed that the average Illinois taxpayer in 2013 would have to shoulder an extra $1,396 in taxes to make up for the revenue lost due to the use of offshore tax havens by corporations and wealthy individuals.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Illinois PIRG | Tax

Victory for Taxpayers and Consumers as Justice Dept. Denies Toyota $1.2 Billion Write-Off in Criminal Probe Settlement

Today, the Justice Department acted in the best interests of taxpayers and consumers, by denying Toyota a hidden $420 million tax benefit on its settlement for misleading consumers about dangerous car malfunctions. One line of text in the settlement made the difference: “Toyota agrees that it will not file a claim, assert, or apply for a tax deduction or tax credit.”

> Keep Reading

Pages

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 | Tax

Jobs and TIF

Illinois PIRG’s report “Jobs and TIF: An Analysis of Job Creation and Tax Increment Financing” analyzes the records of 21 TIF-funded projects from the last decade with the biggest number of promised jobs – each project examined was required to create at least 200 jobs. The report checked to see whether the city is making sure developers are living up to their promises. 

> 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

Pages

Blog Post | Tax

Case Study: The Central Loop TIF District | Celeste Meiffren

Every week, Tax Dollars and Sense will offer a case study to analyze the problems with TIF. This series will start with the most famous TIF district-- the Central Loop.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Tax

Recommended Resolutions for Rahm in 2012 | Celeste Meiffren

Here are some recommendations for what Rahm’s New Year’s Resolutions ought to be so City Hall gets the reform that it needs.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Tax

Not a cause for celebration | Celeste Meiffren

Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced his budget with a pledge to end the smoke and mirrors, and as it passed unanimously, aldermen celebrated a 'new day' for the City. But despite some improvement to end past gimmicks, the budget still includes misleading accounting tricks that hide a tax increase from public scrutiny.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Tax

Budget Season | Celeste Meiffren

'Tis the season to... fill gaping budget deficits.

Cook County is facing a budget deficit of $315 million, and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle unveiled her plan to fill it yesterday.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Tax

The Super Committee should be super open | Celeste Meiffren

Our nation faces enormous fiscal challenges. As part of the deal that was recently struck to raise America’s debt ceiling, Congress established a new Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to narrow the total budget gap by $1.5 trillion over the next decade. This “Super Committee” must report its findings by Thanksgiving, and if a majority of its 12 members support its conclusions, both houses of Congress will consider the resulting legislation under expedited procedures by December 23, 2011.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | U.S.PIRG

Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio has devised a creative way to ensure that Americans can maintain their quality of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as the nature of work changes.

News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund

Every year, corporations use complicated schemes to shift U.S. earnings to subsidiaries in offshore tax havens which helps them dodge both state and federal taxes. Reforms to end tax dodging in Illinois would reduce revenue loss by $1.3 billion, according to a new report called “A Simple Fix for a $17 Billion Loophole,” released today by Illinois PIRG Education Fund.

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."

News Release | Illinois PIRG

In 2016, 73 percent of Fortune 500 companies – including 34 headquartered in Illinois - maintained subsidiaries in offshore tax havens, according to “Offshore Shell Games,” released today by Illinois PIRG Education Fund and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. 

Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund

“Special districts” are a type of government agency that exist outside of traditional forms of general purpose local or state governments, and serve key governmental functions such as public transit or housing. However, special districts are poorly understood by the public and often do business without adhering to modern standards of government budget or spending transparency.

View AllRSS Feed

Support Us

Your donation supports Illinois PIRG’s work to stand up for consumers on the issues that matter, especially when powerful interests are blocking progress.

Consumer Alerts

Join our network and stay up to date on our campaigns, get important consumer updates and take action on critical issues.
Optional Member Code



Illinois PIRG is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.