Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

WSJ:  How $100 Of Your Taxes Are Spent

Wall Street Journal, How $100 of Your Taxes Are Spent:

With April 18 nearly here, U.S. taxpayers are likely asking themselves: Where exactly are my tax dollars going?

To answer the question, here is a “Taxpayer Receipt” showing how each $100 of taxes was spent, both for 2016 and five years earlier. It was prepared by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan nonprofit group in Washington that monitors federal spending. The group’s three chairmen are Republican Mitch Daniels, Democrat Leon Panetta and independent Tim Penny.

Looking at the list of expenditures, it is clear why some say the U.S. is a giant insurance company with an army. Half of all spending goes for Social Security benefits and health programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, while another 20% is for defense and military benefits.


In the last five years, the shares of spending for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid have each risen more than 15%. Social Security and Medicare increased largely due to the aging of the population, while the increase in Medicaid comes from aging, growth in health-care costs and expanded eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

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Also worth noting is this recent NPR poll on the public's knowledge of the federal tax system. In a word, lacking.

I can only imagine the general ignorance of the state and local tax system, and who pays how much for what in your own community...

Posted by: MM | Apr 19, 2017 8:20:09 PM

I would like to see this chart with the Social Security and Medicare components removed so that we can see where our "income" taxes are going. Including these in/out payments back to the contributors in my view misrepresents the picture

Posted by: Fred Prall | Apr 19, 2017 12:20:21 PM

Very scary that $38.87 or as a percentage almost 39% of tax dollars goes for Social Security & Medicare since these dollars are supposed to come from past and present payroll tax withholdings. Open your eyes Americans we are in for a big problem thanks to our politicians - both past and present

Posted by: Michael Mongulla | Apr 19, 2017 7:34:14 AM

Veteran's benefits, a good chunk of civilian federal retirement, and foreign aid / international affairs are basically military spending, as is much of interest (which is the costs of previous wars funded with deficits).

Posted by: Military | Apr 18, 2017 1:00:15 PM

I think it's useful to look at the WSJ graphic in connection with public opinion evidence showing that the public isn't in favor of cutting any major government programs (e.g., and that only a very small percentage of people believe that their taxes are too low (e.g.,

Posted by: Gary Lucas | Apr 18, 2017 12:22:56 PM