Tax Credit Transparency — Still on the Table

Crossposted at BlueMassGroup

There are two articles in the Boston Globe today, dealing with very different subjects but absolutely related, that we wanted to call your attention to.

First up: Budget Cuts will Imperil State’s Poor:

The state estimates that the children of 9,100 families with parents so severely disabled that they qualify for federal Supplemental Security Income benefits will lose their state cash assistance as a result of the $600 million in budget cuts that Governor Deval Patrick announced late last month.

And second, Disclose who benefits from special tax breaks:

A group of lawmakers wants to revive a proposed requirement under which state officials who administer so-called refundable tax breaks would have to identify the recipients, the number of jobs created, and the average salaries of those jobs. The rule is wise and well worth adopting.

Last summer, we wrote to update you on a measure in the budget that we, and a group of other legislators, have been pushing – a transparency provision which would require state agencies that administer refundable tax credits to report annually the names of recipients, the size of the credits, and the number of jobs produced, providing us with the information we need to effectively manage the public’s money and a measure of accountability as to the cost effectiveness of tax credits.

At a time of extreme budget cuts, this provision is even more important. Tens of millions of dollars go out in the form of refundable tax credits every year – and yet legislators, and the public, have no idea where the money is going or what effect it’s having.

How can we cut services, like those detailed in the first Globe article, to below the bone and still refuse to even look at the impact and effectiveness of the money we spend on tax credits?

During budget deliberations this year, we had many discussions on raising revenue. But it’s also important that we make sure we know how that revenue is being spent, particularly when it comes to tax breaks for corporations. These tax breaks might be effective; they might not. The truth is that right now, we simply don’t know.

We’ve spent the last few months talking to our colleagues, and we know there is support among many of them for tax credit transparency. But if this proposal isn’t brought up for a vote, then that support doesn’t matter. The Legislature’s last formal session of the year is tomorrow.

If you agree with us on this issue, we urge you to please contact your legislators and ask for their support. Then ask them to go a step further, and let House and Senate leadership know that this issue is important to them and they’d like to see it come up for a vote.

Sincerely,

Senator Jamie Eldridge & Representative Carl Sciortino

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