Calculate YOUR Share of Govt Spending on War, Entitlements, & More

Federal spending will top $3.6 trillion this year, but what's your share?

The Government Cost Calculator is a new online tool that can be found at A project of the California-based Independent Institute, it allows you to plug in your age, income, and education level to generate a series of tables that show your share of both current and future federal spending across more than a dozen categories. You can break out your share of spending for defense, Medicare, Social Security, and other areas and calculate what you could be earning if you were able to keep the money and invest it at a 6 percent rate of return.

The idea behind the project is that the true cost of government is reflected not just in your tax bill, but in your opportunity cost, what you could be doing with those dollars if you didn't have to hand them over to the government's Nick Gillespie interviewed the Independent Institute's Emily Skarbek, who's also an assistant professor of economics at San Jose State, via Skype to find out more about the Government Cost Calculator and what she hopes to achieve with the project.

About 7.30 minutes. Edited by Jim Epstein.

Go to for downloadable versions, and subscribe to's YouTube Channel to receive automatic updates when new material goes live.

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  • Brett L||

    I think your link is hosed.

  • ||

    I got there, but it's really useless.

  • T||

    Ha! Nick sugarfreed the link.

  • Nick Gillespie||


  • T||

    More on topic, when I put in my information the future tax revenue is way short of my future share of spending. Not that I'm surprised, mind you, but it serves to illustrate yet again that we are spending too much damn money.

  • ||

    I officially have a new crush.

  • endowment||

    Emily's last video showed off more of her natural endowments to good effect. Her geeky fellow econ grad students must have drooled all over her in class.

  • mdb||

    This answered one of my long time questions. Craig D. Eyermann publishes Political Calculation (clicking through to mygovcost site). Thanks.

  • Colin||

    Bloggingheads lawsuit in . . .

  • Leigh||

    While this is a good start, I found it to be too simplistic to be of any use. Doesn't take into account number of kids, home deductions, state tax deductions, etc. Also doesn't take into account what I'd receive in benefits (SS,Medicare).

  • Gilbert Martin||

    I want a calculator for the ever increasing minority who actually pay federal income taxes that breaks out exactly how much of their tax money is going to subsidize the leeches who don't pay any income tax.

  • Tony||

    Alternative return if invested at a 6.09% return

    Which is great considering there'd be no money or stock market and we'd all be living in a nightmarish darwinian hellscape.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Thank you, Nostradamus.

  • despindle||

    I don't like the calculator. The "My portion of government spending" number shouldn't vary by income significantly and if it does it should be inverse as those with lower income get more government benefits (food stamps, welfare, EIC, etc). This would be hard to figure out but I think the best thing would be just to fix this amount depending on your age but not income.

    That way you can compare how much you are paying in and how much is truly being spent on YOUR (singular) behalf. If your income is high you should see that you pay much more in taxes than your share of spending and vice versa if your income is very low.

  • Realist||

    Nick looks like he is not waiting for drugs to be legalized.

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