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What are your taxes paying for?

October 4, 2010

Via NPR, I came across this think tank paper proposing that each year, taxpayers should get a receipt showing exactly where their tax dollars went.  For example, if you paid $5,400 in federal taxes last year, $287.03 went to interest on the national debt (!), while less than a quarter went towards funding for the arts.  Is that really in line with our national priorities?

I wonder how they would show the yearly budget deficit?  “You paid $5,400, we spent $8,000”?

Here’s a sample receipt:

What a great idea!   I would love to get one of these each year.  This is easy & cheap for the government to do, – it could be done online for all taxpayers.  Instead, the government just expects us to pay a several thousand dollar bill each year without an itemized receipt!  The public would become more informed about where our money is spent, and we’d really understand what needs to happen for us to eliminate the deficit.  This information is available to anyone who seeks it out – but shouldn’t it be automatic?    Or is the government better off if we don’t really understand the issues?

9 Comments leave one →
  1. October 4, 2010 7:31 am

    I think this is a neat idea, but I also think the people who want to know this information have already found it for themselves. So, it probably wouldn’t be surprising for those who already know and those who don’t care probably wouldn’t look at it.

    On the debt/deficit, they have to pay the interest on their debt, so that has to be a priority. It’s kind of like our own budgets. If we’re in debt, we’re spending a good penny on debt each month, and how many of us actually donate to charity every month? It’s not in line with our priorities, but we can’t ignore the debt. What irks me about our national debt is that instead of using surplus money during the economy boom for debt, they gave tax cuts instead. The more I read about government, the more it pisses me off!

    • October 4, 2010 7:44 am

      I don’t know – I thought the information was really interesting, but I would probably not seek out the information myself. And not everyone is as blog/computer/net savvy.

      If we are locked into spending that isn’t in line with our priorities, we should have a (long term) plan to try to change it instead of just accepting that is how it has to be.

      I agree – they don’t really have a concept of savings in the good years. It’s really frustrating.

      • October 10, 2010 9:37 pm

        Completely agree that there should be some plan for getting us out of this situation.

  2. October 4, 2010 11:04 am

    I kind of agree with red, kind of not. you ask at the end if it’s easier not to know this sort of stuff. Think back to your own situation. For me, I never really knew where my money was going (or how much) and it led me into debt. The same thing has been happening here.

    If you’re interested in this, check out the movie IOUSA. Netflix has it, although I cant remember if they have it on instant stream or not.

  3. October 4, 2010 3:54 pm

    I think the information is really interesting. Goes to show that a budget is important, but more important is TRACKING and WATCHING expenses LOL

    At any rate, at least people will feel more committed to their taxes if they know what they’re paying for.

  4. October 5, 2010 2:38 pm

    Pretty interesting — I’ve never seen a breakdown like this before.

  5. October 6, 2010 2:24 pm

    I agree with you that I find this extremely interesting but wouldn’t know where in the world to even look for it, or figure out if it would apply to me at all. It’s an awesome way to really wake people up about how much is being spent on war vs. our own futures, etc. Thanks for sharing!

  6. karen permalink
    October 11, 2010 5:42 pm

    I think it’s interesting and wouldn’t know where to look for the info and maybe even too lazy. =)

  7. October 18, 2010 7:30 pm

    Oh this is DEFINITELY interesting! What a great way to put it in to perspective where our money is actually going!

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