Today is the (extended) deadline to get you taxes filed — and for me to get the last of my related tax posts up for the foreseeable future.

This beauty below comes to us via the Thirdway, a breakdown of where your federal tax money actually goes. Punch in the exact amount of dollars you paid in Federal taxes (including FICA, withholding, etc.)  and it will tell you exactly how much you spent on various federal programs:


click for interactive table

Hat tip Ezra Klein

Category: Taxes and Policy

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

39 Responses to “Your Federal Tax Bill Receipt”

  1. DeDude says:

    There are several of these around. You can debate the way they deal with splitting up or not splitting up SS and Medicare taxes and expenses and what they do about government debt to the SS/MM trust funds. Yet I think they are a good way of bringing forth a simplistic understanding of the spending side of the budget.

  2. DL says:

    That darn “arts and culture” is really sinking the ship.

  3. Livermore Shimervore says:

    we spend three times on dimplomacy than what we spend on the U.S. Postal Service!!!!???? WTF?

  4. super_trooper says:

    Thanks for paying $50k in taxes.
    If defense is 20.2% of your taxes, shouldn’t this be the most important category to look for savings. With SS and medicare/medicade I at least know that most of the money goes to something useful. With defense, I know it has brough death to numerous people. As for safety…. I am probably equally safe or safeer in most European countries (AUS and NZ too), but they get that safety at ~1/10th the cost. It’s time to start starve the department of Attack.

  5. USSofA says:

    Livermore ….. we shouldn’t be spending any tax dollars on the postal service. It should be a self sustaining business that competes with Fed Ex and UPS. Government subsidies keep zombies alive forever.

  6. t1dude says:

    How can this be accurate when almost all of SS’s funding (and 100% until this year) came from the PAYROLL TAX and not the INCOME TAX?

  7. Kort says:

    That’s a lot of money for Washington DC…and THEY are the ones complaining about Taxation Without Representation? What representation do taxpayers have for the tax dollars funding the District of Columbia?

  8. forwhomthebelltolls says:

    We could pay the Native americans in beads. (Chinese made, of course).

  9. Chad says:


    I couldn’t agree more. The “we need a strong defense” is pure garbage, because not one, and I always ask, person who has said that has ever been able to quantify what a “strong defense” is. None of them even know something as simple as how many carrier battle groups we have and how many the next closest country has. We have 11, with one new carrier underconstruciton, and the next closest England with 1 (Spain and Italy have 2 each, but neither is even remotely close to a U.S. carrier). Each carrier battle group costs roughly $15 billion. This is just one example.

    By the way, I want to cut everything, but I get tired of the “fiscal party” only focusing on only a very small portion of the budget. Fiscally responsible party my ass.

  10. DeDude says:

    Actually the postal service takes care of certain government services (passports) and should be compensated for saving taxpayers from having to create federal offices in small communities or force individuals to drive huge distances to get federal services. Furthermore, if the federal government insists on being able to ban the postal service from hiking its prices then it just have to pay their deficits.

  11. speaking of the DoD..

    “… In 1911 Secretary Henry L. Stimson revived Root’s reforms and tried to rein in the bureaus. Congress undermined his efforts with the National Defense Act of 1916, which reduced the size and functions of the general staff. During World War I, Secretary Newton D. Baker and President Woodrow Wilson opposed efforts to control the bureaus and war industry, until competition for limited supplies almost paralyzed the American economy. Baker soon yielded to pressure from Congress and big business. He placed Benedict Crowell in charge of munitions, named George W. Goethals acting quartermaster general, and made Peyton C. March chief of staff. Assisted by industrial advisers, they reorganized the army’s supply system and nearly eliminated the bureaus as independent agencies. March also reorganized the general staff along similar lines and gave it direct authority over departmental operations. Nevertheless, after the war, the bureaus regained their former independence from Congress. General John J. Pershing realigned the general staff on the pattern of his American Expeditionary Forces field headquarters. Although the general staff had little effective control over the bureaus, the chiefs of staff had gained substantial authority over them when General George C. Marshall assumed that office in 1939. Marshall believed that the department was a “poor command post” and, supported by Henry L. Stimson, who once again held the post of secretary of war, took advantage of the War Powers Act to reorganize the department following Pearl Harbor. He created three new commands to run the department’s operations: the Army Ground Forces, the Army Air Forces, and the Army Service Forces. The Operations Division served as Marshall’s general planning staff. After World War II, the federal government abandoned Marshall’s organizational scheme and returned to the fragmented prewar structure, while the independent military services parried efforts to reestablish firm executive control over their operations. Under the National Security Act of 1947, as amended in 1949, the War Department became the Department of the Army within the Department of Defense, and the secretary of the army became an operating manager for the new secretary of defense…”

  12. Sechel says:

    Under the current Fed/Administration the duration of U.S. gov’t has declined. More of our debt has a duration approximating that of a money market fund. What will happen to our deficit once short term rates rise, as they must at some point.


    BR: That process started some time ago, when the 30 year bond was canceled.

  13. derekce says:

    The Post Office is self funded through the sale of stamps and services so I doubt that info is correct.

  14. derekce says:

    Well, their website says they’re advocates for private sector economic growth, I’d like to know what method they used to come up with these numbers.

  15. socaljoe says:

    I can’t help wondering how things would be different if we got to decide how to appropriate our tax payments.

  16. diogeron says:

    What are we doing spending 0.1% on “arts and culture?” Get out the chain saw and cut, cut, cut that boondoggle! We’re only spending $2 billion a week in Afghanistan, so that 0.1% could buy a couple of black arts contractors and real tractors instead of Broadway actors and social contractors.

  17. Livermore Shimervore says:

    Re USPS
    well check this out. I’m a bit of a newbie at shipping parcels internationally but had to look up some quotes to Mosco, Russia. DHL $200. FedEx econono $150. I told the person receiving the package and they were about to call off the sale of this particular item. Someone suggested USPS which if shipped priority comes with insurance. USPS $50 in 10 business days. Sale of item was enabled. Either DHL and FedEx run very inefficiently or USPS is sucking up a lot of quarters with a vaccum that would otherwise start to pile up.

  18. hotei13 says:

    i don’t see the line item for the bail out of the banks. in your estimation, where would it fall on this chart?

  19. jimcos42 says:

    re socaljoe @ 3:13PM
    I agree. Create an allocation box on Form 1040 that allows me to state (in 1% increments) where I’d like my money to go.

  20. cjcpa says:

    Social Security receives separate funding. Unless I can count my SSI contributions throughout the year on the 1040, I must insist that everyone, especially sticklers for the *truth*, keep SS funding and the rest of this stuff separated.

    Barry, at least an asterisk on SS!?

    Conflating things leads to erroneous assumptions…. Like thinking that SS is ‘out of money’ when it is in fact a really big asset pile.


    I mean treasury obligations are still worth something, …. right??


  21. GuinnessFan says:


    I agree that this picture with SS at No. 1 looks a bit distorted. There was always a line item in my payroll deductions labeled FICA, although given the current political climate perhaps it would have been more apt to have that item designated as FUCYA.

    I’m not sure exactly how to normalize this for SS and Medicare payroll deductions, but at first glance I’d like to see something that takes actual spending on Medicare and SS and subtracts the payroll contributions to each. I think that would give a truer picture of what your actual income tax is paying for.

  22. GuinnessFan says:

    I forgot to add one question. Is there a chart anywhere that shows federal deficts as reprted by year contasted with federal deficits with excess SS contributions removed? Also do these charts reflect the deficits from supplemental spending appropriations that were used to fund the Iraq / Afghanistan wars?
    Inquiring minds want to know.

  23. romerjt says:

    Actually the “interactive-ness” of this chart is pretty cool . . click on the expenditure and you can drill down to the website of the agencies actually spending the money . . . it’s also kind of interesting that so many comments were made without examining the chart / info . .

  24. louiswi says:

    There seems to be a SERIOUS error in the chart format. The war department is conspicuously absent. I doubt whether the defense budget is any higher than arts funding. Can you correct please???

  25. agentlion says:

    might as well give some credit to the White House, who has a similar, but actually nicer, tax receipt calculator. It looks like this one is a copy of the White House’s

  26. constantnormal says:

    Out of all of the similar interactive tables that are out there, is there not one that asks for the total FICA tax and the total income tax as two separate fields, then apportion that data appropriately? Doing it right would have taken so little additional effort …

  27. constantnormal says:

    I suppose, for those who are persnickety like m, one solution is to add their FICA total to the amount they paid in federal taxes, and use that amount in the input field … it’s still wrong, as it omits the Social Security trust fund and supposedly no general revenues money goes to pay for Social Security, but it would be a bit closer to reality.

  28. smedleyb says:

    Here’s a fun game. Take each category above and find a rough equivalent in your household budget.

    For example, social security can be “IRA contribution,” Medicare can be “heath insurance,” foreign aid can be “contribution to Sally Struther’s Save the Children Fund,” education could be, well, education, etc.

    Now ask youself: why am I sending ADT 20% of my yearly salary, considering I live in a gated community, with a lake on both sides?

  29. DeDude says:

    constantnormal; the link given above by “agentlion” is taking social security and medicare out of the equation as separate entities (both for tax and spending).

  30. Andy T says:


    “Either DHL and FedEx run very inefficiently or USPS is sucking up a lot of quarters with a vaccum that would otherwise start to pile up.”

    Or, USPS has a MONOPOLY on the PO BOX business and they use that to subsidize other lines of business. Or, they’re getting subsidized by the USG.

    Either way, the fact that the USPS can deliver something interenationally much cheaper than “real” businesses says Nada about the inefficiency of those other carriers.

    It probably means the USPS is losing money on that shipment.

    Fannie Mae
    Freddie Mac
    Sallie Mae
    Mandating ratings agencies which created the duopoloy of S&P, Moodys
    Department of Energy (Created to help decrease our oil dependency, but FAILED)
    Department of Education (Created to help better our education system, but FAILED)

    Those are just a few of the wonderful things the Government created, or helped create, in order to “help” us all out…

    Thanks, but no thanks.

  31. Herb2 says:

    Can you complete your tax return with the number of inputs required to complete these forms? If so, the generated result is reasonably accurate. Do you really want a tool that requires as many inputs as your tax return? Also, when computing your taxes paid, don’t forget to debit the social security, Medicare, child care, and other payments, tax credits and subsidies paid to you.

  32. Andy T says:


    “Now ask youself: why am I sending ADT 20% of my yearly salary, considering I live in a gated community, with a lake on both sides?”

    Does ADT come to your house when you’re getting robbed or mudered? Or, does someone else come?

    Dumb analogy….

  33. hotei13 says:

    thanks romerjt. i clicked on the chart, and lo and behold, the large version shows the bailout category at the very bottom. imagine my shocked joy at discovering that i spent not one dime of my taxes for the bailout. rather, i received a “credit” of 3.7% !

  34. smedleyb says:

    What’s dumb, Andy? That we spend too much on a silly little service that can’t seem to protect us even when we are in danger, which we rarely if ever are?

    Can we add the F-22 Raptor to your cute little list above?

  35. Andy T says:

    What’s “dumb” smedleyb is that you likened the US Military budget to ADT. You know that ADT just “alerts” someone else to the fact there might be an issue at your house, right? There is no ADT Police department, right? There is no ADT Fire Department, right?

    I’m not saying that I agree with the DoD being 20% of the annual budget. All I’m saying is that your analogy was pretty dumb.

    Does that make it any clearer to you?

    Do you want to “defend” any of those government created entities on my “cute little list?” You want to really get into an argument whereby you defend that “cute little list” but suggest we don’t need a military budget?


    Probably best we just both go to bed and you hold on to your own little ‘truths.’

  36. Theravadin says:

    Makes me wonder if the US of A would be safer if we halved the defense budget, and shifted half of the money saved to Foreign Aid. I bet the answer is yes.

  37. smedleyb says:

    Andy, what I’m trying to say in that defense spending is pointless, that it’s really waste spending — heck, that it’s not really about “defense,” but about war, waging it, expanding the empire, so to speak. If it really was about defense, the the military budget should be about equal to what an average family spends on their monthly ADT bill.

    But you want to delve into my silly little analogy and blow holes in by fixating on the minutiae rather than the essential point — that our “defense” (Orwell would be proud) spending is out of control.

    And no, I don’t want to defend that list — you’re obviously enamored with it; all I suggested was you simply add to it.

    Sleep tight.

  38. HandyAndy says:

    This chart is SO wrong! Social Security is a separate entity that has been running a surplus for decades. They hold piles of treasuries that have accumulated from the excess contributions primarily from people making less than $100k per year (i.e. the non-filthy rich). Without the Social Security taxes being pulled into the general fund, the deficit would have been roughly $100 billion per year higher over the last decade and everything else in the chart would be 25% larger.

    This chart is a lie! The people who draw up garbage like this are simply trying to squirm out of paying taxes that need we’ve been dodging for the last decade. Wake up! Don’t let the top 1% pull off yet another trillion dollar theft!

  39. awells1902 says:

    1.7 T in deficit doubles our 14T debt in 6 years. That is by the end of second term of Obama administration.

    So the deficit does matter, and Social security does not contribute to it, even after everyone admits that the trust fund money was stolen and will not be repaid. Not yet, anyway. Medicare is a problem, but to put it in perspective, the combined wars on Drugs, Iraq, and Afghanistan contribute to the deficit just as much as Medicare does. If we had to choose one, I know what I would choose. Eliminating the wars and fixing healthcare, like simply copying the best healthcare in the world by outcome would decrease overall healthcare spending by more than 40%,k and fix the Medicare deficit, not to mention fix the healthcare. And it would cut some 500B off the deficit. That is more than either Ryan or Obama is proposing.

    Separating the categories and matching them against funding would be meaningful. As it is, the chart is garbage.