History & Accomplishments

Throughout our history, TCS has empowered citizen activists, the media, policymakers, and allies from across the ideological spectrum with the information and insight necessary to make government work for all.

From the TCS founding documents, 1995:


Taxpayers for Common Sense is founded because the way the government taxes and spends the people’s money is causing Americans of all political beliefs to lose faith in their government. TCS will pursue research and education activities that address two interrelated problems – what is happening to the people’s money and how decisions are being made. But TCS seeks not to give people tools to tear down the government but to build something Americans can believe in:  a government that costs less, makes more sense, and works for them.


Highlights of Activities: 

2015 Annual Report (pdf)

2011 Annual Report (pdf)

2010 Program Highlights (pdf)

2009 Program Highlights (pdf)

Taxpayers for Common Sense has worked to save taxpayers billions and to improve the way that Congress makes federal budget decisions. Among our successes:

TCS fiscal arguments have regularly won support for less wasteful federal spending.  The Associated Press named Taxpayers for Common Sense a “winner” in the fight to keep $50 billion in economically-risky loan guarantees for nuclear fuels out of the federal stimulus package Congress passed in 2009.  After a long battle, TCS saw the end of the F-22 Raptor and other expensive and increasingly irrelevant Defense programs that also happen to be built in the districts of several influential lawmakers. The New York Times echoed our call for cutting the aircraft program, and the Pentagon announced they would no longer fund it. 

We helped slow or stop hundreds of unwise and wasteful projects, from the Auburn Dam (SAVINGS: $711 million) to the NASA Russian space monkey program (SAVINGS: $4 million). It was TCS who identified the $200 million earmark Congress made for the Gravina Island Access Project in Alaska, coined the term “Bridge to Nowhere,” and used consistent pressure on lawmakers to ensure its demise. (For more on the Bridge to Nowhere, click here.)   

Our work has increased transparency and accountability in Congress. After years of TCS attention on the earmark issue, in 2007 Congress began to require that lawmakers’ names be listed next to the earmarks – special interest spending – that they requested. TCS created databases of thousands of earmarks in the spending bills each year, bringing them into the public eye. When Americans learned how their tax dollars were being spent, they demanded that Congress end this broken spending process. This led to increasing levels of transparency until 2011, when both chambers of the 112th Congress adopted a two-year moratorium on earmarks. TCS is now working with Congress to develop metrics and criteria that can help them base their spending decisions on merit, competition, or formulas.

Our earmark databases and investigations helped uncover patterns of bribes and rewards, such as those between former Representative Duke Cunningham and his partners.  We worked with The San Diego Union-Tribune in a multi-pronged investigation to expose the patterns at the root of the criminal prosecution, leading Mr. Cunningham to plead guilty to federal bribery charges.  We worked with The Wall Street Journal to examine then- Representative Charles Taylor’s questionable earmark patterns. Representative Taylor repeatedly directed federal funds towards harmful road projects that would likely increase the value of his own personal property.  Working with investigative journalists, we also highlighted the earmarking excesses of Representative Don Young and the late Representative John Murtha, leading to extensive press coverage.

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October 13, 2017

What’s the Score? Dynamic Scoring of Tax Reform Proposals

Tax reform is not a game. If major US tax reform is enacted anytime soon, it will affect all Americans. Most... Read More

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