Truth in Accounting

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Truth in Accounting
FounderSheila A. Weinberg
FocusUnited States public debt
Coordinates41°53′02″N 87°38′30″W / 41.8838°N 87.6417°W / 41.8838; -87.6417Coordinates: 41°53′02″N 87°38′30″W / 41.8838°N 87.6417°W / 41.8838; -87.6417
Revenue (2013)

Truth in Accounting (TIA), formerly known as the Institute for Truth in Accounting, is an American nonprofit organization whose goal is to ensure that governments provide truthful, timely, and transparent financial information to their citizens. TIA analyzes government finances on the city, state, and federal level.

Each September, TIA releases its "Financial State of States" report that takes a deep look into each of the 50 states' Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) in order to compare assets with liabilities. "For the first time, a detailed analysis of pension and health care liabilities has exposed all fifty states’ actual obligations," commented Ziyi Mai in The John Locke Foundation's blog, The Locker Room.[2] TIA then ranks the 50 states on the basis of taxpayer burden, which is each taxpayer's share of state debt.

TIA expanded on its state level analysis in 2015, moving its analysis to include city level governments. So far, TIA has analyzed and ranked the top 20 largest US cities. By the end of 2016, it will have analyzed the 50 largest US cities.

The Mission of TIA is, "to educate and empower citizens with understandable, reliable, and transparent government financial information."[3]

TIA has been quoted in numerous publications covering federal and state-level government accounting issues. USA Today quoted TIA CEO Weinberg in 2012, saying, "By law, the federal government can't tell the truth [about its debt]." [4] USA Today also quoted Weinberg in 2011: "The (federal) debt only tells us what the government owes to the public. It doesn't take into account what's owed to seniors, veterans and retired employees. Without accurate accounting, we can't make good decisions." [5]

Kevin Palmer at Watchdog Wire reported on TIA's methodology: "Truth In Accounting’s figure includes not only this public debt, but also intergovernmental debts (loans made from one government branch or agency to another) and unfunded liabilities, the greatest of which are Social Security, Medicare, and pensions. As the population ages, these unfunded liabilities have skyrocketed–and although they aren’t yet part of our official debt, barring substantial reform the government will have no choice but to borrow trillions in order to fulfill them." [6]

In November 2012, TIA launched a new website called State Data Lab, which provides easy access to its calculations of the states' debt, liabilities, and assets and permits users to graph and analyze it visually. State Data Lab also posts news about state-level financial issues, including pensions and retiree health insurance.


  1. ^ Organizational ProfileNational Center for Charitable Statistics (Urban Institute)
  2. ^ John Locke Foundation: "Not-so-balanced state budgets," The Locker Room, accessed November 19, 2012.
  3. ^ IFTA Mission Statement: "About: Mission," IFTA, accessed November 16, 2012.
  4. ^ Real federal deficit dwarfs official tally: " USA Today, accessed December 6, 2012.
  5. ^ U.S. funding for future promises lags by trillions: " USA Today, accessed December 6, 2012.
  6. ^ The Books Are Cooked: Our Debt Is Even Worse Than They're Telling You: " Watchdog Wire, accessed December 6, 2012.

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