April 13, 2017 – Americans typically have strong feelings about paying their taxes. And yet, many of us do not know what our taxes actually pay for.
National Priorities Project (NPP) has just released its annual to-the-penny breakdown of how the federal government spent each dollar of income taxes paid by individuals in 2016.
The tax dollar looks at how individual income tax dollars are allocated in the federal budget. In 2016, more than half of every tax dollar went to health care – primarily Medicare and Medicaid – and the Pentagon and military. Just pennies went to education, foreign aid, science and other priorities.
“Much of what we’re paying for reflects priorities that Americans have, like access to health care,” said NPP’s research director, Lindsay Koshgarian. “But a recent poll showed that Americans want to spend less, not more on the military, which currently takes up nearly a quarter of every tax dollar. And some things that Americans want the federal government to get involved in, like education, are seriously lagging.”
Out of every federal income tax dollar paid in 2016, 29.1¢ went to health care, 23.4¢ went to the Pentagon and military, 13.2¢ went to interest on federal debt, 7.5¢ went to unemployment and labor, 6¢ went to veterans’ benefits, and just pennies went to each of food and agriculture, government, education, transportation, housing and community, science, international affairs, and energy and environment programs.
A budget proposal from the Trump administration proposed cutting spending in nearly every part of government, with the notable exceptions of the military, which would receive a 10 percent increase, and some targeted spending on border control, deportations and immigration enforcement. The 2016 tax dollar provides a baseline for Americans to understand how their tax dollar was spent prior to President Trump’s proposed changes.
To help Americans understand where their tax dollars go, National Priorities Project provides a suite of interactive web resources:
· An average taxpayer’s receipt for the United States (on average, Americans paid about $14,000 in federal income taxes in 2016),
· State-by-state receipts showing how the average taxpayer in each of the 50 states and District of Columbia contributed to government programs in 2016;
· A personalized individual tax receipt calculator which shows a detailed breakdown, including spending on specific initiatives like immigration enforcement, Medicaid, the State Department, and the Environmental Protection Agency, among others.
“Individual taxpayers’ income taxes are the largest source of federal revenues every year – which means individuals are the primary billpayer of the federal government. We deserve to know where our tax dollars are going, and we have a responsibility to act on that information by participating in the political process,” Koshgarian said.
Tax Day resources:
- Seven Tax Facts for 2017
- How your 2016 tax dollar was spent
- Average Taxpayer Receipts for all 50 States and District of Columbia
- Individual Tax Receipt Calculator
National Priorities Project (NPP) is a non-partisan, non-profit organization founded in 1983.
NPP inspires individuals and movements to take action so our federal resources prioritize peace, shared prosperity, and economic security for all.
In 2014, NPP was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of our pioneering work to track federal spending on the military and promote a U.S. federal budget that represents Americans’ priorities. Learn more at nationalpriorities.org.