The Tax Man Cometh: Ever Wonder How He Spends Your Money?


The Tax Man Cometh: Ever Wonder How He Spends Your Money?


Every year you repeat the same tired task. You collect all your receipts forms, and related tax

information and either settle in for a marathon self-preparation session, or you hand it all over (along

with a few hundred bucks, give or take) to your tax preparer. When all’s said and done, you’ll see

exactly how much money the federal government took from your paychecks, but you certainly don’t

see an itemized list of where that money will go.

However, in his 2011 State of the Union Address, President Obama pledged to develop a new online

tool that would allow every American to see precisely how the government spends his or her annual tax

payments. The resulting and first-of-its-kind public website, “My Federal Tax Receipt,” launched last

year and was just recently updated to reflect current spending. The tool is an online calculator, located

on the a site called Once there, you simply enter your income tax, Medicare

tax Social Security tax, and a detailed calculation of how your tax dollars are allocated pops up on the


But you don’t actually have to do anything at all to satisfy your general curiosity — after all, you could

just simply scan the numbers and learn how much of the collective federal income tax is allocated

where, as it’s all broken into categories and subcategories and measured by percentage. While the

information on the site is incredibly informative, intriguing, and perhaps even a bit surprising, I’d be

less than honest if I neglected the site’s democratic political bent, but the information is still interesting,

despite the occasional overt partisan prose.

Exploring the site is a fascinating way to see where your national priorities lie when compared to those

of the government. How much goes to job development and education compared to health care? How

does health care rank when it comes to foreign policy and even foreign aid? Most of us don’t have a

clue, let alone how much tax money is allocated to each different cause.


The programs and services funded by your income tax, as well as the percentage of your total


income-tax payment they receive, are as follows:


National Defense 24.9%

Health Care 23.7%

Job and Family Security 19.1%

Education and Job Training 3.6%

Veterans Benefits 4.5%

National Resources, Energy, and Environment 2.0%

International Affairs 1.6%

Science, Space, and Technology Programs 1.0%

Immigration, Law Enforcement, and Administration of Justice 2.0%

Agriculture 0.7%

Community, Area, and Regional Development 0.5%

Response to Natural Development 0.4%

Additional Government Programs 7.9%

Net Interest 8.1%

In addition to these statistics, the site offers a great deal of interesting content. Curious about foreign

policy issues, for instance? You’ll easily find your way to a cache of information including everything

from the National Security Strategy, Obama’s National Strategy for Counter Terrorism, and short

pieces describing things such as “Refocusing on the Threat from al Qaeda in Afghanistan and

Pakistan,” to other stories that tout presidential achievements such as “Stopping a Massacre and

Supporting the Libyan People” or “Promoting Peace and Security in Israel and in the Middle East.”

In addition to these 12 major categories, there are an additional 34 subcategories to break the spending

down further into segments such as “Ongoing operations, equipment, and supplies,” which consumes

10.3 percent of the total slice of pie that goes toward National Defense, or “Child care, foster care, and

adoption support,” a subset of the Jobs and Family security category that sees only 0.6 percent of its

share of your tax dollars.

The site certainly warrants a visit, regardless of your political affiliation. Having a better understanding

of what we pay for and how makes us stronger citizens, and let’s face it, it’s information we deserve to


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