Illinois Will Send State Spending Data with Tax Refund Checks

January 2, 2014

The Chicago Tribune recently reported that taxpayers in Illinois will get a bit of supplemental information to go with their income tax refund checks: information from the Illinois Comptroller’s Office about state spending, including details about the state’s $7.6 billion in unpaid bills.

The flier will be sent to those who receive their refunds via a check in the mail. It features a chart showing how the state's $35.2 billion budget is divided among various programs including education, health care and retirement funds for state workers. […]

[Comptroller Judy Baar] Topinka said the information will help the public “follow the money” and hold lawmakers more accountable for their spending. […]

The Illinois Department of Revenue also plans to offer a “taxpayer receipt,” which amounts to an online calculator that would allow people to plug in how much they paid in taxes and see how their money was split among various programs.

I think this is a novel idea and one that could be replicated. Because of withholding, the relationship a lot of Americans have with income tax filing season is one of getting money back. This sort of transparency effort goes a ways to remind us that, yes, we were paying all year for something, and in the case of Illinois, spending is growing faster than tax collections.

More on Illinois.

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