The Spending That Isn’t Counted

Source: Josh Goodman,, April 25, 2012

…Budgets advance state objectives by spending the money the treasury collects. What they don’t usually do is decide how the state will advance the same objectives by not collecting money in the first place. The end result, many lawmakers and outside experts agree, is that these sorts of tax expenditures– exemptions, deductions, credits and other diversions from regular tax rules — don’t get the same scrutiny from legislators that conventional spending programs do. Budgets must be rewritten every year or every two years. Tax expenditures usually exist in permanent laws that change only when lawmakers take affirmative steps to change them. As a result, tax expenditures have often been ignored over the years, though that’s starting to change….

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