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Interactive Calculator Shows You Exactly Where Your Taxes Go

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Where does my tax money go?As tax season enters its final days, the yearly political battle over government spending is reaching a fever pitch. Pundits and politicians are leaping once again into the fray, dragging with them the same old tired arguments about welfare, defense spending, Medicare, foreign aid, and all the other traditional tax-debate villains. Meanwhile, the real question -- exactly how are our tax dollars spent? -- usually disappears beneath the avalanche of partisan rhetoric.

Recently, ONE, a nonprofit group that fights global poverty, unveiled an interactive tool that enables users to see how much they pay in taxes, and where Taxesthat money goes. Here it is:


According to ONE, a single taxpayer, making the average household income of $49,445, pays $8,486 in taxes before exemptions. Of that, the biggest chunk, over $1,740, goes to Social Security and $1,082 goes to Medicare. The other big expenditures are similarly unsurprising: defense spending eats up $1,601 and unemployment insurance eats up $1,295.

Some other expenses are a bit more shocking. For example, almost 6% of taxes go to pay interest on America's debt, while less than 10% goes to health care spending. As for the country's embattled foreign aid allocations, they account for a minuscule 0.95% of all federal spending.

What about the classic budget villains, like the education system, food assistance programs, and school lunches? Well, on ONE's tax tool, these -- along with hundreds of other programs covering everything from insurance for children to rental assistance to the cost of printing currency -- are included in "Other," a catchall that totals just over 16% of the budget. Put in context, this means that the combined price of most government programs costs less than the defense budget or Social Security, and just a few percentage points more than Medicare.

Digging a little deeper, our government's spending priorities become even clearer. For example, education totals about 2% of the federal budget -- less than one-ninth of what goes to the military, or about $169 per year for an average household. Federally-funded science and medical research accounts for about the same amount, while transportation spending gets 3%. Put another way, America spends about six times as much on its military as it does on its roads, airports, bridges, trains and other transportation infrastructure.

Click the calculator below to see just where your tax dollars are going this year.

tax calculator

Bruce Watson is a senior features writer for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at bruce.watson@teamaol.com, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.

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Wayne Bradshaw

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May 05 2012 at 11:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ha6ai

President Mitt Romney

Sounds wonderful!

Huh Brucie?

April 19 2012 at 12:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
efvann

Wrong! My taxes are going into Mr. Obama's friend's pockets. And so are billions more from other taxpayers. (Not including the tax money supporting PP, ACORN's spin-offs, all the phoney "Green" frauds Obama supports, and all the voters he's paying to show up and vote for him a few times. Just like back in Chicago.

April 17 2012 at 1:51 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
magus47

This is soooo funny. It shows how ignoarnt people are about taxes. Do you actually think your taxes go into some kind of bank account? It's like how the teabaggers think if the government lowered taxes they would have more money. The government can spend all the money they want BECAUSE THEY MAKE IT. They can lower taxes all they want and you will have more money. IT JUST WON'T BE WORTH ANYTHING. Let's just get rid of income taxes altogether. In a few years everybody will be millionares. True, a pack of gum will cost 7,000,000 BUT LOOK AT ALL THE MONEY YOU"LL HAVE.

April 16 2012 at 9:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mpusairsret

In 1913 the first year of income tax, the only income that was not included was dividends as they were from after tax income of companies. Capital gains was included as orinary income. The base tax was 1%. Then there was a graduated super tax 1% on $20-50,000; 2% on $50-75,000; 3% on $75-100,000; 4% on $100-250,000; 5% on $250-500,000; 6% on income above $500,000 and the budget was balanced. We've really come a long way since then.

April 16 2012 at 8:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
webetrout

While it is true that SS and to a certain extent, Medicare, are from funds paid in by workers, it is totally correct to list them as part of the annual budget spending because for decades, Congress and Presidents have raided the fund and put "IOU's" in there, paying benefits from income received from current workers. There is no actual money in the SS trust fund, and income from current workers does not equal the benefits being paid out, thus, part of the annual budget each year is the cost of SS. Or to put it another way, SS was, over the past 50 years, set up as a Ponzi type payout while Congress appropriated SS funds for other uses. We now have fewer workers paying in than the money going out to retiring baby boomers. When they say SS will go broke in 2025 (or other mythical date), that is when the 3 Trillion, unfunded IOU will be exhausted. SS is already broke, in the conventional sense of having no money in the bank.

April 16 2012 at 1:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
uh34d

Married, standard deduction or itemized, me & the wife get really screwed. Between federal income taxes (we have no problem paying Social Security & Medicare, state income taxes & local property taxes, we got bagged for a little more than 32% for a tax burden.

We wouldn't mind so much if people like Romney, Obama & all of those wealthy people out there carried some of the tax load, but let's face it, the tax laws have been designed to aid the wealthy & to allow them to retain as much of their income as possible...ditto for corporations. And how do we make up the difference? By sticking it to people like ourselves & the government borrowing more & more money.

What's really pathetic is the fact our Nation could resolve its financial problems very easily. Just return to the tax laws that existed in say 1975, even 1980 would do the trick. It would take a reduction in military spending of just 12%, don't allow for any growth in spending for five years, no more absurd wars that gain our Nation nothing, the additional revenues generated by utilizing the 1980 tax structure and within five to eight years our Nation would be debt free.

For the unemployed right now, initiate a new Civilian Conservation Corps to work on our infrastructure. We have plenty of qualified people in America with no job or job prospects, they can get the job done of repairing & rebuilding our infrastructure, a system in desperate need of repair & updating.

April 16 2012 at 1:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
James Bridges

I didnt see a Slice that shows how much the Politicians in DC steal every year and stick into thier own Pockets.

April 16 2012 at 12:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BILLYKNOWS2

One of my nieces just got SS Disability because she's a junkie and cant work! (true,disgusting)

April 16 2012 at 12:05 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
BILLYKNOWS2

I made a small fortune in the stock market, I started with a large fortune,,,,,,

April 16 2012 at 12:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply