Center for American Progress

NEW REPORTS: Eliminate Waste Through Greater Oversight of Tax Expenditures
Press Release

NEW REPORTS: Eliminate Waste Through Greater Oversight of Tax Expenditures

Today the Center for American Progress released a series of reports that explain why greater scrutiny of tax expenditure spending is a critical component of effective government. Scrutiny can result in the elimination of tens of billions in wasteful tax breaks, and help develop better targeted tax subsidies that deliver greater results.

WASHINGTON, D.C.This year, spending through tax expenditures will total more than $1 trillion dollars. Incorporating greater transparency, scrutiny, and oversight into the tax expenditure process will cut billions in wasteful tax subsidies and maximize bang for every taxpayer buck.

Audit the Tax Code: Doing What Works for Tax Expenditures

The framing essay lays out the framework that CAP’s new Doing What Works project will use to examine tax expenditure spending. The Doing What Works project was launched in February with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Campaign for American Workers.

Government Spending Undercover: Spending Programs Administered by the IRS

This paper describes tax expenditure spending programs, explains why they should be viewed just like other forms of government spending, and outlines the obstacles to treating them the same as other spending.

Cracking the Code: A Closer Look at Tax Expenditure Spending

This memo takes a hard look at tax expenditures and reveals some surprising results; here are 10 tax expenditures that illustrate the importance of examining this form of spending more closely.

“It’s ridiculous that tax expenditures subsidize businesses that purchase SUVs and the purchase of vacation homes,” said Sima J. Gandhi, an author of two of the reports. “Tax expenditure spending is more than 25 percent of the government’s total budget. There is an enormous amount of potential to save billions and improve government efficiency if we can scrub down on that 25 percent. Resources are scarce, and no stone should be left unturned.”

The best way to do this, Gandhi argues, is for tax expenditures to be evaluated and measured like other forms of government spending. This would empower federal lawmakers with the information needed to cut waste, develop responsible budget plans, and improve delivery of government-wide priorities.

With tax expenditure spending amounting to more than $1.2 trillion, establishing value for American taxpayers must be a priority. As Reece Rushing, who is leading the project and is CAP’s Director for Government Reform, said, “Part of building a more effective and efficient government is treating tax expenditures like spending. Getting that message across is an important part of this project.”

Tax expenditures must be integrated into discussions on spending to advance smarter government that efficiently allocates scarce resources and achieves greater results for the American people. Taxpayers should know their dollars are supporting programs that work and that deliver results for them.

Click here to read the framing essay, “Audit the Tax Code”

Click here to read “Government Spending Undercover”

Click here to read “Cracking the Code”

Click here to see the project’s website