Tax and Budget Information

Public Citizen supports a well-funded government paid for by a progressive tax system that prioritizes communities’ needs over the desires of the wealthy few. Instead of slashing taxes on the rich and profitable corporations, the U.S. could easily pay for needed investments by closing tax loopholes and implementing policies like a tiny tax on Wall Street trades. As we debate changes to the tax code, we must also address the current confusion over political activity by nonprofits. And, the budget process must not be used as a grab bag of goodies for corporations, which is what happens when "riders" or unrelated ideological policy proposals are attached to government funding bills.

A well-funded government means there are ample resources available for agencies to oversee public health programs, conduct drug safety studies, implement worker protections, enact financial regulation, prioritize consumer product safety  support education;  build and maintain infrastructure, and create  many other  necessary community investments. However, the share of who is paying for what is critical to this conversation:  those who can pay more-- profitable corporations, millionaires, and billionaires-- should be paying more for these shared investments.

Instead of looking at the tax code to see how to make Big Business, Wall Street, and the super wealthy pay their fair share, the current tax debate in Congress and in the Trump Administration is centered on slashing funding for programs like Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security disability programs, Meals on Wheels, and education in order to cut taxes for corporations, millionaires, and billionaires. That’s the wrong direction for our nation's leaders. They should not be proposing to cut the government services families depend on to make ends meet, when the U.S. could easily fund all of our public needs by closing tax loopholes and putting in place new taxes, like a speculation tax on Wall Street trades.

Beyond funding our critical systems, another important change that should be made to the tax code is for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to solve the current confusion over political activity by nonprofits. This is the problem that Public Citizen's Bright Lines Project aims to correct. The Bright Lines Project is intended to create a better definition of what sorts of political activity charities can and cannot participate in. If this activity was better defined charities would be more likely to participate in civic engagement activities that improve our democracy. However, rather than focus on this critical reform, some conservatives have instead been calling for the repeal of the Johnson Amendment. Repealing this provision would go the opposite direction, and allow charities to directly endorse candidates (creating a new secret money conduit) while doing nothing to provide better rules of the road for nonprofit organizations.

Another critical issue in the budget process is that government spending bills are frequently a target for poison pill "riders" or unrelated ideological policy proposals that in many cases roll back important government protections or stop progress on rules, for example ones that would limit the corrupting influence of money in politics.

Learn more about our tax and budget work

Tax Fairness
A Budget That Works for All Americans
Bright Lines Project