Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

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Search results for "Tax breaks" ...

  • The Center for Public Integrity: Tax Breaks: The Favored Few

    In February 2018, Congress passed a massive budget bill, and President Donald Trump signed it. It provided new money for the military. It funded disaster relief efforts. And it raised the nation’s “debt ceiling” — allowing the government to secure new loans. While these provisions grabbed headlines amid the chaos of what was, at best, a slapdash scramble to pass a budget and avert another government shutdown, a gaggle of goodies, benefiting a bevy of special interests, slipped into the bill’s 652 pages almost unnoticed. These goodies are called “tax extenders.” Seeing an opportunity to boldly tell an effectively untold tale, the staff of the Center for Public Integrity endeavored to explain how every tax extender — more than 30 in all — came to fruition and reveal how lobbyists gamed the political system and squeezed $16 billion worth of special favors from it. This project represented a rare example of deep investigative reporting on Congress. While hundred of reporters cover what Mitch MCConnell and Nancy Pelosi said yesterday, very few unravel how the institution of Congress is corrupted.
  • Tax evasion in Princeton's eating clubs

    This was an investigation into how Princeton's eating clubs raise millions of dollars to pay for lavish renovations of their social facilities, including taprooms, lounges and dining halls. The investigation found that the leadership of the 12 eating clubs had over time set up a handful of "educational" foundations to hand out tax breaks to their donors. These donations directly violated IRS guidelines. Had the donors given money directly to the clubs, they would have received no tax benefits.
  • Tax breaks for gentrifiers: How a 1990s property tax revolt has skewed the Portland-area tax burden

    An analysis of thousands of property tax records found that most Portland-area homeowners pay more than their fair share of the cost of local government and schools, thanks to Oregon's skewed tax system. A small share of property owners, mainly people who bought into rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods, enjoy huge tax breaks under the system. The Oregonian/OregonLive analysis is the first to ever quantify winners and losers and the first to identify, house by house, who would benefit from tax reform. The answer? Most people.
  • Deals For Developers

    A WAMU investigation found the D.C. City Council awarded $1.7 billion in real estate subsidies to 133 groups in the past decade — and more than a third of the subsidies went to ten developers that donated the most campaign cash over that time. What’s more, less than five percent of the subsidies went to the city’s poorest areas with a fourth of the city’s population, and developers failed to deliver on pledged public benefits for at least half the projects examined.
  • Tulane Legislative Scholarships

    Under a 120-year old deal with state lawmakers, Tulane University allows each of the Louisiana's 144 legislators to award one full scholarship to Tulane every year in exchange for tax breaks. Abuses of the program were first exposed 20 years ago by WWL-TV (including that the mayor of New Orleans had given his own son a scholarship), leading to supposed reforms. But in a joint investigation with the New Orleans Advocate, our research revealed scholarships based on insider connections, favoritism and campaign contributions. We found that many scholarships don't go to the most needy or best qualified, but to the children of the powerful and the connected. In six televised reports and seven accompanying front page articles in the New Orleans Advocate, as well as on the web sites of both media outlets, we exposed the new problems which have already led to one state lawmaker calling for more major reforms to the scholarship program.
  • Deals for Developers, Cash for Campaigns

    Construction cranes can be seen throughout Washington, D.C. Less visible are the symbiotic relationships between land developers and city officials awarding tax breaks and discounted land deals. Those government subsidies are meant to revive neighborhoods, and to create jobs and affordable housing. But in some cases, the benefits never materialized, or the subsidies simply weren’t needed. And what began as a targeted economic development tool now looks to some like government hand outs that could have paid for other city services. A WAMU investigation found the D.C. City Council awarded $1.7 billion in real estate subsidies to 133 groups in the past decade — and more than a third of the subsidies went to ten developers that donated the most campaign cash over that time. What’s more, less than five percent of the subsidies went to the city’s poorest areas with a fourth of the city’s population, and developers failed to deliver on pledged public benefits for at least half the projects examined.
  • How America Gives

    Does a person’s address influence how much they give to charity? The Chronicle analyzed tax and demographic data to determine that tax breaks, politics, faith – even the neighborhoods they call home – can have a profound effect on generosity. Regional differences in giving are stark: In states like Utah and Mississippi, the typical household gives more than 7 percent of its income to charity after taxes, food, housing, and other living expenses, while the average household in Massachusetts and three other New England states gives less than 2 percent. How America Gives explores these differences by state, city, county, and ZIP code and provides the most extensive analysis of generosity ever done. The project includes a sophisticated interactive database that allows online users to explore these differences and compare giving by community.
  • Hidden Hunting Land

    Woodland owners in Wisconsin get huge tax breaks for enrolling property in a state-run managed forest program. In exchange, property owners agree to allow hunters, hikers and others to enjoy the land. The trouble is, while taxpayers pick up the roughly $29 million tab, few get to enjoy the benefits. Property owners – who collectively have enrolled more than 1 million acres in the program – have found ways to keep the public out, including creating phantom companies to fence off the property and otherwise discourage visitors. Some parcels allowed into the program would only be accessible to the public by helicopter, for example. In addition, the property is difficult to locate, and the state agency overseeing the program makes it more so by not providing maps, access points or even the phone numbers of the property owners. The Journal Sentinel obtained a database of all the land in the program, calculated the cost to taxpayers and created an interactive map, making the land significantly more accessible to the public. The map was so comprehensive that, once the project ran, the newsroom was able to make it the center of a marketing campaign to hunters and hikers – a significant innovation in repackaging existing content in a user-friendly (and money-making) way.
  • Green Inc., Environmentalism for Profit

    With the groundbreaking series Green Inc., USA Today for the first time uncovers the truth behind the soaring movement toward constructing buildings that are certified as environmentally friendly. The series shows how "green" buildings often are barely different from their supposedly conventional counterparts -- except that green-building designers and owners often win huge tax breaks, zoning waivers and other valuable perks from government agencies. The series involves an unprecedented analysis of records for 7,100 green-certified buildings to show how the designers follow the easiest and cheapest steps to get certified. Numerous freedom-of-information requests revealed the enormous tax breaks awards to the building designers and owners, and also show how some buildings are falling far short of their environmental promise.
  • War Zone: The Destruction of an All-American City

    The hour-long documentary War Zone: The Destruction of an All-American City takes an unprecedented look at the impact of corruption on the East St. Louis, Illinois area, one of the poorest and most violent communities in America. The program was broadcast twice during prime time; Tuesday night at 8 pm on August 28, and the following Saturday night at 7 pm. This project was the result of an ongoing decade-long probe of government waste, corruption, police misconduct, and violence in East St. Louis and the surrounding villages by investigative reporter Craig Cheatham. Our documentary begins with a detailed look at police misconduct and corruption, how it has contributed to the breakdown of public safety in the East St. Louis area, and why local politicians tolerated such outrageous behavior by their officers. The second part of our documentary focuses on the impact of derelict and vacant housing, the slumlords who own the property and the people who live in some of the worst housing in the metro area. Our investigation also uncovered new connections between politicians and legendary slumlord Ed Sieron, who was business partners with a longtime mayor. In addition, KMOV revealed that of the 500 mostly rundown properties that Sieron owns in East St. Louis, only 13 were cited for code violations. That lack of accountability for the notorious slumlord, empowered him and made the people living in his homes feel powerless. War Zone also exposes the way East St. Louis communities have sold their economy to vice-driven businesses like strip clubs, liquor stores, a casino, and convenience marts that had a long history of selling illegal synthetic drugs. Our investigation found that nearly all of these businesses failed to employ a significant number of East St. Louis residents, even though they received millions of dollars in tax incentives that are paid by East St. Louis residents. At the same time East St. Louis is handing out tax breaks to wealthy out-of-town businessmen, it repeatedly refused to provide the same tax incentives for local residents who wanted to create family friendly businesses that would employ people living in the East St. Louis area.