The Good News about Taxes

By Casey Schoeneberger
April 15, 2011

Taxes are the means with which we all work together towards a greater good. With so much confusion and scornful rhetoric surrounding our taxes, however, it is no wonder they end up being more despised than loved. As a result of that confusion and rhetoric, America now faces record low revenues combined with the problem of enormous deficits.

Tax season is the perfect time to examine exactly where our federal taxes are spent and thankfully, The National Priorities Project provides the ideal tool to find those answers.

This tool demonstrates where taxes paid by your type of household (single, single head of household or married filing jointly)—and with your  specific tax responsibilities are directed. You can check where your tax dollars go by using this tool. You’ll get a chart similar to the one below that shows how much an individual would pay towards each budget area.

In the example below, as a single head of household with one child, earning $50,522 in 2010, my federal tax contribution would equal approximately $3,586. When you break that down into individual categories (as seen below) my federal contributions to Veterans Benefits through my taxes would equal a mere $139 while my tax dollars contribute $982 to military expenditures. In no way do I advocate for jeopardizing the safety and security of our military, but this skewed chart does speak to our national priorities. As much as we may be investing in our military, we are certainly not dedicating those same resources to soldiers when they return from service.

As much as we invest in the defense of our nation, we will never be secure if we continue to cut investment in international affairs programs that work to build understanding and consensus among nations. With my hypothetical tax bill, I’d contribute $43 a year to international affairs. Our country may never agree on where each dollar should be directed, but I do believe a majority of Americans would contribute more than $40 to peaceful development in other nations—before conflicts arise that demand military intervention.


Take a look at this tool and see where you’d be willing to spend more (or less) of your tax dollars.

Source: National Priorities Project

To see a further breakdown of the above categories, click here.

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