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

Blog Post | Budget, Tax

Mayor Did The Right Thing on Midway

Killing the Midway deal for lack of competition in the bidding was not only the right thing to do for that deal, but it should be the City's policy.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG | Budget, 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.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG | Tax

Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average Illinois Taxpayer $1,058 a Year, Illinois Small Businesses $3,202

With Tax Day approaching, it’s a good time to be reminded of where our tax dollars are going. Illinois PIRG released a new study that revealed the average Illinois taxpayer in 2012 would have to shoulder an extra $1,058 in taxes to make up for the revenue lost due to the use of offshore tax havens by corporations and wealthy individuals.

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Report | Illinois PIRG | Tax

Picking Up The Tab

Some U.S.-based multinational firms and individuals avoid paying U.S. taxes by using accounting tricks to shift profits made in America to offshore tax havens—countries with minimal or no taxes. They benefit from their access to America’s markets, workforce, infrastructure and security; but they pay little or nothing for it—violating the basic fairness of the tax system and forcing other taxpayers to pick up the tab.

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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.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Tax

Illinois Receives a “B-” in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending

Illinois received a “B-“ when it comes to government spending transparency, according to Following the Money 2012: How the States Rank on Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data, the third annual report of its kind by the Illinois PIRG Education Fund.

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Media Hit | Tax

We want our money back

Good-governance groups are fighting back against companies that take state subsidies and then head out of town.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG | 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 released a report on the need to fix TIF and called for all of the Mayor’s recommendations to become law.

 

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Budget, Tax

Red Light and Speed Cameras: Public Safety or Private Gain?

No one likes getting traffic tickets. But a new research report released today by Illinois Public Interest Research Group (Illinois PIRG) will make you dislike them even more.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Budget, Food, Tax

Taxpayer Subsidies for Junk Food Wasting Billions

An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but a recent analysis shows that taxpayers overwhelmingly subsidize commodity crops instead of fruits and vegetables—enough for each taxpayer to pay for 19 Twinkies, but only a quarter of an apple every year.

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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.

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