Tax cut receipt

Via Ezra Klein, I found this link to a Third Way proposal (PDF file) for a taxpayer receipt that would show how your portion of federal taxes is split among different government functions. This is the example they give:

list of federal programs and taxes


I love this idea! I think it is educational, perhaps even mind-blowing, to look at the details of where our taxes dollars are spent and in what proportion. When you think about the federal budget, the numbers are so huge that it is easy to be confused about the proportion that goes to the military, or to parks. Even though the budget for parks may sound large in total dollars, you can see that as a proportion of your taxes it doesn’t amount to much.

The one thing I would add is a percentage alongside the dollar amounts. I think that would be educational as well. It’s not hard to tell that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid take up almost half the budget, but it might be useful to spell out that Foreign Aid amounts to less than 1%. Anyway, more information is always good, as far as I’m concerned.

Edit to add: And today Ezra finds that Kareen Shaya made a calculator that lets you plug your own numbers in and tells you where your money went. Neat! (Hmm, doesn’t work for me. 0 of my taxes went to the military!

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