Updates

How the CTA can protect consumers

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The new Ventra fare card system, set to be rolled out to CTA riders this summer, has left people with a lot of questions about whether the system will be a good deal for Chicagoans.  The CTA will have one of the first transit fare systems in the country to be linked to a prepaid debit card – a largely unregulated product that can make it easy for private banks to gouge consumers with hidden fees and unpredictable charges.  

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.

Even when tax haven abusers act perfectly legally, they force other Americans to shoulder their tax burden. Every dollar in taxes they avoid by using tax havens must be balanced by other Americans paying higher taxes, coping with cuts to government programs, or increasing the federal debt.

Academic studies conclude tax haven abuse costs the United States approximately $150 billion in tax revenues every year. Multinational corporations account for $90 billion and individuals the rest.

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.

Ventra is the new payment system for Chicago transit that will eventually allow customers to use a single fare card for regional transit throughout the Chicago area.  The new "Ventra Card" will include  the option of registering for a prepaid debit card - but you need to be careful.  This prepaid debit card can leave you on the hook for hidden fees and unpredictable charges.  

Perils of Privatization: Part One

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Illinois PIRG is highlighting a series of privatization mistakes that demonstrate the need for oversight, transparency and accountability in any attempt to privatize a city service or asset.  By shining a light on privatization deals gone awry, we hope to prevent bad deals that harm the public interest in the future.  

 

In part one, we'll examine how a contract that combined restrictive arbitration clauses and non-competes ended up costing the city millions - all because of one simple human error. 

Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Budget

Following the Money 2013

Every year, state governments spend tens of billions of dollars through contracts with private entities for goods and services, subsidies to encourage economic development, grants, and other forms of spending. Accountability and public scrutiny are necessary to ensure that state funds are well spent.

News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Budget

New Report: Illinois Receives an “A-” in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending

Illinois received an “A-” when it comes to government spending transparency, according to “Following the Money 2013: How the States Rank on Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data,” the fourth annual report of its kind by the Illinois PIRG Education Fund. 

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.

Tax havens are countries or jurisdictions with minimal or no taxes. Corporations and individuals shift earnings to financial institutions in these countries to reduce their U.S. income tax liability—costing the federal government $150 billion in lost revenues each year.

Federal taxpayers are not the only victims of offshore tax havens. Tax havens deprive state governments of billions of dollars in badly needed revenues as well. Based how much income is federally reported in each state, and on state tax rates, it is possible to calculate how much each of the state governments lose as a result of offshore tax dodging. In 2012, the state of Illinois lost $2.5 billion.

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.

Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Budget

Transparency in City Spending

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. Transparency in government spending checks corruption, bolsters public confidence, improves responsiveness, and promotes greater effectiveness and fiscal responsibility.

Cities across the country have been moving toward making their checkbooks transparent by creating transparency portals and posting recipient-specific spending data online. Currently, 17 of America’s 30 most populous cities provide online databases of government expenditures with “checkbook-level” detail.  Online checkbooks in most cities are searchable, making it easier for residents to follow the money and monitor government spending.
 

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