How Your Tax Dollars Are Spent in 10 Photos


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In 2012, the IRS collected more than $2.5 trillion in revenue from taxpayers -- but do you know where your tax money winds up? A report from The National Priorities Project allows us to show, in easy-to-understand slides, exactly where your tax dollars are spent.

Published in: Economy & Finance
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  • Nice presentation, but content needs work. The term 'taxable income' is used to represent 'tax on income,' which is not the same thing. Taxable income is income subject to tax. Tax on income is some fraction of taxable income. In addition, social security does not appear in the list. Perhaps this is because it is funded by a 'payroll tax' rather than an 'income tax.' But Medicare, which is also at least partly funded by a payroll tax is included. Content needs work.
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How Your Tax Dollars Are Spent in 10 Photos

  1. 1. How Your Tax Dollars Are Spent in 10 Photos
  2. 2. Paying the Piper • In 2012, the Internal Revenue Service processed more than 237 million tax filings which generated more than $2.5 trillion in collectable revenue and $373.4 billion in refunds. • Since 1960, the amount of tax dollars collected by the IRS has nearly increased by a factor of 27. • According to the National Taxpayers Union, individual taxpayers spent 3.8 billion hours complying with federal tax laws in 2009. In other words, we know our taxes are burdensome, but do we really know where that taxable income ends up? Source: PublicDomainImages, Pixabay.
  3. 3. How Your Tax Dollars Are Spent • The good news is that thanks to a study by The National Priorities Project, a non-profit research organization, we do know where your federal income tax dollars go! IRS Building, Washington D.C., Source: Wikimedia Commons. • Utilizing data from the Office of Management and Budget from 2008, The National Priorities Project allows us to break down how your tax dollars fund different aspects of the federal budget.
  4. 4. The Military 42.2% of all taxable income goes to the U.S. military. • 28.7% of taxable income funds current wars and defense efforts. • 10% goes to pay interest on debt from previous wars. • The remaining 3.5% goes to pay benefits to military veterans. Source: DVIDSHUB, Flickr.
  5. 5. Health Care Expenditures 22.1% of all taxable income goes to pay for health care expenditures. Health care expenditures are made up of Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program costs. Source: Images Money, Flickr. • Medicare, which predominantly covers seniors, accounts for nearly two-thirds of all health care expenditures. • Medicaid and CHIP make up the remainder, covering lowincome individuals and families.
  6. 6. Interest on Non-Military Debt 10.2% of all taxable income goes to pay for interest on non-military debt. • U.S. national debt currently sits at nearly $17.4 trillion according to USDebtClock. Source: Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. • Roughly 20% of all collected tax revenue simply goes to pay for interest on military and nonmilitary debt.
  7. 7. Anti-Poverty Programs 8.7% of all taxable income goes to pay for anti-poverty programs. Source: U.S. Navy, Wikimedia Commons. This funding category includes: • Food stamps apportioned to lowincome individuals and families to allow them to purchase fresh groceries. • Welfare given to low-income individuals and families to allow for non-food expenditures. • Adoption and foster program assistance.
  8. 8. Education, Training, and Social Services 4.4% of all taxable income goes to pay for education, training, and social services. Source:, Flickr. This category is comprised of: • Funds supplied from the federal government to states for educational assistance (preschool through college). • Student loans. • Employment and training services designed to get unemployed and underemployed Americans back to work.
  9. 9. Government and Law Enforcement Expenses 3.9% of all taxable income goes to pay for government and law enforcement. U.S. Secret Service motorcade support, Source: Cliff, Flickr. This category is comprised of: • Costs to run the U.S. judicial system. • Federal employee retirement and disability costs. • The costs associated with running the Social Security program. • Money funneled to state and local law enforcement agencies around the country, as well as Secret Service costs.
  10. 10. Housing and Community Development 3.3% of all taxable income goes to housing and community development. This spending category is made up of: • Housing assistance provided to low-income individuals and families. • Regional development programs designed to improve and enhance select communities. Source: U.S. Navy, Wikimedia Commons.
  11. 11. Energy, Science, and Environmental Programs 2.6% of all taxable income goes toward energy, science, and environmental programs. • This expenditure includes money apportioned to NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of the Interior, which garner a lion’s share of these funds. Source: NASA Goddard Photo and Video, Fotopedia.
  12. 12. Agriculture, Commerce and Transportation 1.5% of all taxable income goes to pay for agriculture, commerce, and transportation expenses. • These expenses are primarily comprised of subsidies paid to the agricultural sector as well as funds used to maintain federal roads and airports. Corn fields, Source: Fishhawk, Flickr.
  13. 13. International Affairs 1% of all taxable income goes to pay for international affairs. International affairs is comprised of: • Humanitarian assistance sent to foreign countries. • Paying to conduct diplomatic affairs overseas. • Contributions to overseas financial assistance funds. 904 bags of rice supplied to Haiti, Source: U.S. Navy, Wikimedia Commons. Note: international affairs spending is just 11% the size of the tax income apportioned to domestic anti-poverty programs.
  14. 14. Is Uncle Sam About to Claim 40% of Your Hard-Earned Assets? Thanks to a 2013 law called the “American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA),” he can… and WILL… if you aren’t properly prepared. Fortunately, The Motley Fool recently uncovered an arsenal of little-known loopholes to protect yourself from “ATRA”… and help keep the taxman at bay when he inevitably comes calling. We reveal them all in a brand-new special report. Simply click the link below for instant, 100% FREE access. Protect my hard-earned wealth from Uncle Sam