Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) offered an amendment that will create new and permanent online tools to allow taxpayers to calculate their individual contributions to federal agency programs. Quigley introduced the measure in order to increase transparency and public access to information.
"You get a receipt showing how much each item costs when you buy groceries, yet there's no detailed record when it comes to paying taxes, easily the largest expense most Americans have each year," said Rep. Quigley. "Taxpayers have a right to know how Congress is spending their money. These new tools will help Americans hold their elected officials accountable and rein in out of control deficits."
Quigley's amendment requires all federal agencies to include a receipt calculator on their respective websites that allows individuals to enter specific tax payment information to determine how much they have contributed to that particular agency and each program it administers.
The amendment expands on transparency measures Rep. Quigley proposed last year as part of the bipartisan and bicameral Taxpayer Receipt Act (H.R. 1527), which provides individuals information on their contributions to higher level budget categories, such as Social Security, Medicare and Defense, as well as the amount the federal government is borrowing in their name..
The new tools created by Quigley's amendment are similar to those currently available through the websites of the White House and various fiscal watchdog groups, but which provide estimates to broad budget areas rather than specific agencies and programs.
Quigley's amendment was offered to the Taxpayers Right to Know Act (H.R. 3609), which was considered today by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Though the amendment was voted down by a narrow vote of 19-17, with two Republicans voting in favor of the legislation, Rep. Quigley will continue to advocate for taxpayer receipt measures.
Congressman Quigley has been committed to good government reform in his two terms in Congress. He founded the bipartisan Transparency Caucus and recently released Reinventing Government: The Federal Budget Parts I and II, which establishes transparency in the budget process and offers 60 recommendations to save $2 trillion over the next 10 years. Congressman Quigley serves as the Ranking Member on the House Oversight Subcommittee on TARP, Financial Services, and Bailouts of Public and Private Programs.
Yesterday, Quigley published an opinion piece on how transparency and accountability can help restore the public's trust in government.