With a sigh of relief, Americans are quietly rejoicing that tax season has come and gone—and that they don’t have to think about it for another year. But don’t put taxes out of your mind just yet. You paid your dues to the government, so in return you should know how your federal tax dollars are being spent.
For the third year in a row, the White House has released the Federal Taxpayer Receipt in order to equip taxpaying citizens with information regarding the distribution of taxes and how much they contributed to each category of federal spending for 2012.
The Receipt is easy to use and requires only a few pieces of information about the taxes you paid last year in 2012 (Social Security tax, Medicare tax, and Income tax); if you don’t have your tax information handy, you can still obtain a receipt by selecting an income estimate from a dropdown menu. The Receipt then shows how much of your money went to various federal spending priorities, such as defense, health care, and education.
It’s tempting to just file your taxes and then never give another thought to where your money is being funneled, especially when you have no decisionmaking power in how your tax dollars are spent. However, the tool is a good way to assess what the government’s spending priorities are in a very general sense and better understand the distribution of your money.