Where Does Your Tax Dollar Go?

Kevin Glass

4/15/2013 9:36:00 AM - Kevin Glass
Today is tax day - the day when every American has to file with their income taxes with the Internal Revenue Service. The Heritage Foundation has come up with a snazzy graphic so that Americans can see where each percentage of every tax dollar that the federal government takes goes:

There's actually been a broad coalition of both conservatives and progressives on the idea that Americans should actually know where their tax dollars go. Progressives think that if Americans knew just how much they were getting from the government for every dollar they spend, they'd think that paying taxes was important and worthwhile. Conservatives, obviously, think that if Americans knew where their tax money was going, Americans would recoil in horror at being ripped off by the government for their tax dollars.

Back in 2011, a bipartisan group of legislators proposed that the IRS give every American a "receipt" for paying their taxes so that they know where the money goes:

A receipt, they say, would show where each cent of your annual tax payment goes, making abstract government programs more concrete and personal opinions on tax cuts, or hikes, better grounded in facts.

"Presumably, Americans will never like paying their taxes," David Kendall and Ethan Porter write in an article laying out the proposal in the journal Democracy published this month. "But with the right policy proposals -- and with their implementation -- they might not despise doing so."

The document, envisioned as no more than one page, would allow taxpayers to see and make sense of proportional differences in federal funding for programs such as NASA, environmental protection, foreign aid and veterans affairs, they say.

Indeed, showing that kind of bipartisan spirit, the White House has launched their own "tax receipt calculator" opposite of the Heritage Foundation's. You can check out how President Obama calculates your taxes right here on WhiteHouse.gov.