When you look around your city or hometown, do you wonder how your income tax dollars are being put to use? Well, look no further, because the infographic below outlines a number of ways in which your hard-earned money is being spent, and whether it’s doing any good.

For the first time in history, our Tax Freedom Day landed on the same day that taxes were due. It took the average American 107 days to earn enough money to pay for their taxes. Now that we’re all anxiously awaiting our refunds, cursing the government for making us pay, or hoping that our extension will be long enough, it’s time to see where most of that money is actually going.

The average American spends about 12.7% of his or her income on food, while over double that, 29%, is spent on federal, state, and local taxes. The government is throwing that money at a number of services, including national defense, health care, social services, education, veteran benefits, law enforcement, and more.

For example, we’re spending 24.9% of our taxes on national defense, including the $8 billion we’ve put into the TSA, and the unaccounted for billions we’ve squandered away in Iraq. Another huge chunk, 23.7% goes to health care, yet 50 million Americans don’t have it, and it’s the number one cause of personal bankruptcies in the country. If we’re not getting anything from our tax dollars, who is?

How Your Tax Dollars Are Spent
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  • cranky critter

    It’s very unclear to me how this was arrived at. In particular it suggests that national defense is our single biggest cost. And it doesn’t break out several of the biggest expenses like medicare and social security. We pay taxes to finance medicare and social security, in case anyone’s wondering.

    For example, look at this table of federal outlays. National defense is 768 billion. Health and medicare, two separate lines, account for 886 billion. So how is health spending LESS than the military?

    Then there’s social security, which we’re taxed to pay for, and which came in at 748 billion. Where’s that?

    The infographic also includes the amorphous “social services.” Which things are and are not included there? All of the things in the “income security” section of the budget table amount to 622 billion. Is that supposed to be a translation?

    One other thing to note is that the vast majority of education is NOT financed by Uncle Sam, but by states and local governments. The total amount America spends per capita on education is WAY higher than what Uncle Sam spends.

    I notice that the infographic slides into cant in the lower section. It takes special note of the 1470 high income households that managed to pay zero taxes, but not what percent of millionaires that represented. Meanwhile it took no notice of the percent of Americans with below median income who pay zero taxes.

    And it makes no effort whatsoever to quantify or conceptualize the concept of poverty as defined in America for the purposes of such data. Most Americans who are defined as living in poverty have clothes, a place to live, food to eat. Children get a free education and free breakfast and lunch. In my state, they get 100% free healthcare. Now indeed this may not make poverty particularly pleasant. But it’s a wholly different state than poverty in any non-industrialized nation. For most of the rest of the world’s poor, what we consider poverty would be a huge upgrade.

  • mdgeorge

    I agree with CC. I’ve been on a data kick lately, but it’s exactly to counteract this kind of selective cherry picking of numbers. This set of facts seems more or less meaningless.