New Mexico lawmakers this week looked at a report that shows how much money escapes government collections due to tax breaks approved over the years. As lawmakers and the governor continue to examine how to reform New Mexico’s tax code, it’s timely.
Called a tax expenditure budget, the report details more than a hundred tax deductions, credits and exemptions, how long each has been on the books, why they were enacted, and whether they achieve their desired result. (Need a primer on what a tax expenditure budget is? See our special report in 2016).
While the report is the size of a small book and would take more than an afternoon to read, lawmakers complained it didn’t have enough information, per Dan McKay at the ABQ Journal.
And they’d have a point. There’s no data for some of the listings, and much of the report has limited usefulness for evaluation purposes. Many items have brief evaluation paragraphs with little information, or in some cases, simply the word “none.”
More information about how government policy is made and whether it’s meeting intended goals is always better than less.
Not only is this tax expenditure report incomplete, however, the data it contains isn’t as accessible to the public as it could be.
For example, if you go to the National Conference of State Legislatures website, you’ll find a nifty tool: a searchable database of tax breaks for every state.