Number of Agencies or Authorities With Subsidy Power in the United States:


Nationwide Growth in Development Incentives Since 1990 as a Share of the National Economy


Total Annual Aggregate Cost of State and Local Development Incentives

As much as $80 billion.

It depends on how — and what — you measure. The low end estimate of specific tax subsidies and incentive programs is generally $45 billion, while researchers looking at data coming out of new accounting requirements suggest it’s at least $70 billion. In 2012, The New York Times estimated $80 billion, and since that time incentives have only continued to grow.

How Much More Do We Spend on Economic Development “Corporate Welfare” Incentives for Businesses Than On Actual Welfare Checks for Low-Income People?

Potentially more than two and a half times as much.

In 2017, state governments spent a combined $31.1 billion of state and federal money through the Temporary Aid for Needy Families “TANF” program. TANF provides “welfare check” cash assistance to low-income families, in addition to funding a variety of other services such as job training, Head Start, juvenile justice, youth pregnancy prevention, adoption programs and more.

There’s far more to “welfare” than TANF, and there’s more to “corporate welfare” than just economic development incentives. But the comparison is still worth considering.

Number of States That Hand Out More in Corporate Incentives Than They Collect in Corporate Income Tax

Three (Michigan, Nebraska and Oklahoma)

Annual Property Tax Revenues Captured by Tax Increment Finance (TIF) Districts in Cook County, Illinois

A record $1 billion, which ends up in low-transparency TIF slush funds rather than municipal budgets. $660 million of this is in the City of Chicago, which does not receive this money to help address an estimated $28 billion pension crisis as well as well-publicized demands on its police, EMS and other municipal services.

Things Americans Spend Roughly as Much on Each Year as Economic Development Incentives

More to come…