Massachusetts is perhaps best known for subsidizing large biotech and pharmaceutical firms through its Life Sciences Incentive Program. Besides these, General Electric got a $145 million package deal in 2016 for simply relocating its headquarters from Connecticut.
The Massachusetts Office of Business Development administers the state’s targeted subsidy programs, while the Department of Revenue administers as-of-right tax breaks that any eligible company can claim directly on its tax returns.
Massachusetts is transparent when disclosing project information (including parent company names, which is rare) for programs that require applications, approvals, and/or agreements. However, only basic information is provided in tables, which need to be scraped from PDFs, and any extra details about what projects entail are presented in a format that doesn’t allow for multi-year, multi-project analyses.
The Department of Revenue publishes the annual tax expenditure budgets. The comptroller’s office prepares the Annual Comprehensive Financial Reports (ACFRs) in which the costs of the Economic Development, Life Sciences, and Film Tax Incentive Programs are disclosed. Massachusetts municipalities generally report tax abatements in accordance with Statement No. 77. There are no counties with governing bodies, and most school districts do not produce financial statements.
In 2018, a Tax Expenditure Review Commission was officially formed and charged with producing biennial economic impact analyses of Massachusetts’ many tax breaks. The first report was issued in 2021. Until then, only the film tax credit got regular reviews by the Department of Revenue.