Where Does Your Tax Money Go?


might as well be a money hole
The Onion

Happy Tax Day. For supporters of big government it's a day to celebrate. How else would we have roads? For advocates of limited government it's a day to rue how large and wasteful government has grown. Despite the cry of "ROADZ!" only a small part of your tax dollar actually goes to roads. Assuming your tax dollar is evenly divided for federal expenditures and that money the federal government borrows is also evenly divided for expenditures, and using the president's proposed 2014 budget, your tax dollar is divied up as follows:

  • Social Security, Unemployment and Labor—33.24 cents
  • Medicare and Health—24.54 cents
  • Military—17.1 cents
  • Interest on Debt—6 cents
  • Transportation—4.1 cents
  • Veterans Benefits—3.7 cents
  • Food and Agriculture—3.5 cents
  • Education—1.8 cents
  • Government—1.8 cents
  • Housing and Community—1.5 cents
  • International Affairs—.9 cents
  • Energy and Environment—.9 cents
  • Science—.9 cents

If you know how much you owe or you've paid already, multiply your tax bill times the number above and divide by 100 for personalized results. For ease of reading, mandatory and discretionary spending on domains like Health and Transportation were combined for the above list. Here it is in pie chart format:

not to you

Original numbers via National Priorities.

NEXT: Three Cheers for Tax Scofflaws (They Keep Us Afloat and Limit Government's Reach)

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  1. “Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.”

    1. Sadly folks still haven’t learned from history….and many choose not to.

    2. How is that different from a market?

      1. Tony:

        How is that different from a market?

        You tell us, Tony.

        You’re the one who assumes that coercive exchanges are inherently unequal and exploitive, except when the government does it, in which case, it’s only exploitive if it’s exploitive.

        When you can explain the special pleading exceptions that make government magically different, let us know.

      2. How is that different from a market?

        People in the market can’t put you in jail or shoot you for no apparent reason and get away with it. Maybe you missed that.

        1. They can if there isn’t a government around to stop them.

          1. Actually, they can do all that even with a government.

            Ever heard of murder?

          2. I hate to comment on your remark Tony because I feel like I’m being trolled, but I’d just like to remind you that a typical libertarian is not for anarchy. I think you know that though, thus the trolling issue.

            1. Sure, we’re all for mixed economies here, which is why there is no fundamental principled disagreement about the rightness or wrongness of having government, just about who it should bother helping. I think it should help the vulnerable more; you guys think it should forget about them and help out billionaires.

              1. Tony, you think government programs actually help people. I think they don’t. The government already spends well over $900 billion in anti-poverty programs at the local, state, and federal levels.

              2. “- just about who it should bother helping.” That. Right there Tony, is the thought process with which I disagree.

                The government shouldn’t be ‘helping’ anyone. Just stay out of the damn way and do only what is allowed by the Constitution. If a majority can get the Constitution amended so be it. But enough of the bureaucratic legislation and ‘help’.

              3. I think it should help the vulnerable more; you guys think it should forget about them and help out billionaires.

                You’ve been posting here long enough to know how disingenuous you are.

            2. You are generalizing. There are many individuals who are libertarian that have come to the logical conclusion that anything other than anarchy (voluntarism)… such as government requires force and violence to survive, which is therefore antithetical to liberty.

          3. The government can shoot you WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE PUBLIC. Big difference.

          4. Well, Tony, maybe when the government goes away, you and I can meet.

      3. One is voluntary, the other is not.

        Any other questions?

  2. BUT THERE IS Nothing left to cut!@

  3. They left out the advocates of no government in this article.

  4. There’s not literally a hole into which they throw money. That’s a myth. They actually burn it as “green” energy.

  5. I have to confess that the Social Security slice look a bit small.

    I suspect that’s going to grow significantly in relation to everything else.

  6. –Govt— THIS!!!… IS!!!!……. S!!..oooooo cool how we get to rob people and face no consequences.

  7. And yet people (not here) think I’m crazy when I say the Fed is holding down interest rates because debt service would destroy the economy. But there it is. Tripling the debt service payments would cost more than the military.

    1. You know, that might not actually be so bad.

    2. The interest rate on government debt isn’t something the Fed can control. It’s honestly based on the market. The rate on debt service is low because we’re the best looking horse in the glue factory: bond buyers see us as the safest bet for their money compared to buying the debt of other countries, like Japan, and most of the European ones.

  8. Georgia wingnuts think “welfare” is the biggest expenditure.

    1. Palin’s Buttplug|4.15.14 @ 1:09PM|#
      “Georgia wingnuts think “welfare” is the biggest expenditure.”

      And idjit shitpiles think this isn’t welfare:
      “Social Security, Unemployment and Labor – 33.24 cents
      “Medicare and Health – 24.54 cents

    2. Oh, it’s welfare, just not to the people they think it is going to.

      1. Exactly. The welfare programs for the middle and upper classes are the most expensive and the most difficult to rid ourselves of.


    3. Since SS has become a significant welfare program, serving much, much more than ‘retirees’, they might actually be correct.

      1. What do Nazis have to do with this? Oh.

    4. Lines 1, 2, and 10 are Welfare.

      Much of 3, 5, 7, 12, and 13 is corporate Welfare.

    5. How is 47% obtaining services at the expense of the other 53% not welfare?

      For that matter, how is a progressive tax code not welfare? For that matter how is a flat tax not welfare?

      1. I actually agree that SS/Medicare is welfare.

        But the public doesn’t think so. Welfare is something that goes to the undeserving to them.

        1. Palin’s Buttplug:

          I actually agree that SS/Medicare is welfare.

          But the public doesn’t think so.

          So, are you saying that Georgia wingnuts have it right, while the general public has it wrong?

          1. “So, are you saying that Georgia wingnuts have it right, while the general public has it wrong?”

            Nothing new; shitpile got busted lying one more time

      2. Taxes aren’t welfare till they’re redistributed. Not defending progressive taxation, but the expenditures are where the welfare comes in. Expanding it that far makes it almost meaningless.

    6. Re: Peter Caca,

      Georgia wingnuts think “welfare” is the biggest expenditure.

      Pseudo-libertarian leftards want to think “Social Security” and “Medicare/Medicaid” is NOT welfare, so that in their minds whenever someone says “welfare” it automatically means something else besides Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid

      1. Well, you can thank Reagan for the misconception when he campaigned against the “welfare queen” who is taking most of your taxes paid. And he did not mean SS/Medixxxx either.

        TANF and SNAP are a little less than $100 billion. It would be a little less than 3 cents on the chart above.

        1. Yeah, Reagan was right there on the front lines in the fight to initiate SS/Medixxxx and welfare for queens too.

        2. Re: Peter Caca,

          Well, you can thank Reagan for the misconception when he campaigned against the “welfare queen”[…]

          Who cares? The fact is that you made an argument based on what YOU consider welfare – a strawman – and I am calling you on it. Don’t bother with such distractions.

        3. Even if you are going to use some superstrict definition of welfare that applies only means-tested programs, it’s got to include way more than TANF and SNAP. You need to include Medicaid ($272B federal), Section 8 and other low-income housing programs ($36B), low-income heating assistance ($3B), among others. In total, all federal means-tested programs added up to $588B in FY12.

          1. Medicaid goes mostly to the elderly (and SCHIP to children). It doesn’t fit the “welfare queen” notion.

            1. Who cares if it fits your notion of a “welfare queen”? Are we now classifying federal program according to what you think is and is not for welfare queens?

              1. Why, it’s almost as if he’s posting to be intentionally disruptive and trying to derail the conversation for the sole purpose of annoying and frustrating people.

            2. Palin’s Buttplug|4.15.14 @ 2:13PM|#
              “Medicaid goes mostly to the elderly (and SCHIP to children). It doesn’t fit the “welfare queen” notion.”

              Shitpile, here’s a shovel. Keep right on digging.

            3. Isn’t having children required to become a “welfare queen”??

        4. “welfare queens” were during the Clinton era. Reagan’s era was out to get “deadbeat dads.” That resulted in a dramatic increase in welfare expenditure, mostly in overhead; the modern prototype for kicking cronyism up a notch. It also resulted in a federal takeover of marriage and family law, which resulted in a redefinition of marriage; once protected from arbitrary government intrusion, it became public property – a mere term defined as part of welfare policy, completely arbitrarily politically manipulable. With “equal protection” being the only remaining Constitutional test, you know what happened next.

        5. Personally, I blame Reagan for everyone’s lack of understanding of SS and Medicare.

          I mean, who else?

  9. I know this list is wrong because it only adds up to 100%. Wishful thinking that tax revenue comes anywhere close to funding the government.

    1. +1 deficit spend

    2. I assumed borrowed money was spent evenly across government

      1. It should also include how much is borrower for every tax dollar collected.

        1. *borrowed

      2. Borrowing is not stealing…. or something.

  10. I hear shrieking. Anyone else hear shrieking?

    It’s SHRIEK, everyone! Say hi to Shriek! Bringing the derp HARD – every day. For your entertrollment!

    Shriek, everybody! Witness Shriek!

  11. Social Security, Unemployment and Labor – 33.24 cents
    Medicare and Health – 24.54 cents

    So over half of a tax dollar is pure transfer payments?

    Good to know.

    1. It’s not a transfer. It’s a tax. until you are a beneficiary. then it transforms into an insurance policy that you paid into your entirely life. How it switches is a mystery of the faith.

      1. Mystery of the faith; sleight of hand, who’s to say?

      2. Transubstantiation.

        Transubstantiation (in Latin, transsubstantiatio, in Greek ??????????? metousiosis) is the change whereby, according to Government doctrine, the taxes collected in the Sacrament of the Roadz become, not merely as by a sign or a figure, but also in reality an insurance policy you’ve paid into your whole life.

  12. Is it April 15th?

  13. A Tonyesque “not taking is giving” gem from the linked National Priorities page:

    But unlike discretionary spending, which must be approved by lawmakers each year during the appropriations process, tax breaks do not require annual approval. Once written into the tax code, they remain on the books until lawmakers modify them. That means there is minimal oversight to ensure tax breaks actually achieve their intended purpose, even as they can grow in size from year to year as more taxpayers claim them for tax savings.

    1. Large chunks of the tax code, an in particular the corporate tax breaks, have sunset provisions every couple years, so this is simply false.

  14. If youz guyz don’t like paying your fair share, just move to teh Somaliaz.

    Submit or leave. The majority has spoken.

  15. Why isn’t the VA spending included as part of the Military spending? And what about the DHS, CIA drone program, NSA, the DOE budget for the nuclear arsenal, etc.? Wouldn’t it be more honest if Americans knew how much military related activities cost them each year rather than hiding the spending in other categories?

    1. I actually don’t think VA spending should count as DOD spending. I don’t think someone who did 20 years Stateside should get a pension. Hell, I don’t think we should give a pension to those who deployed and never got hit. I think the support of wounded veterans is appropriate, but I don’t think a retired REMF deserves a pension anymore then a retired civilian bureaucrat deserves one.

      1. Mixed feelings on that one. Somebody who spent 20 years in the Infantry, even if he never saw combat, is pretty well used up. He’ll have ankle, knee, and hip issues for the rest of his life.

        You are right about the REMFs. I have no problem switching them and all government civilians over to 403Bs.

        1. Somebody who spent 20 years in the Infantry, even if he never saw combat, is pretty well used up. He’ll have ankle, knee, and hip issues for the rest of his life.

          Yeah, that’s a wounded (or injured, I suppose) veteran. I meant more the ever expanding sea of paper pushers.

      2. I could be wrong, but I think regular military pensions are accounted for in DoD’s budget and only disability payments (which generally reduced regular pensions) come under VA’s budget.

      3. I don’t think a retired REMF deserves a pension anymore then a retired civilian bureaucrat deserves one.

        A military pension IS NOTHING like a civilian pension.

        1. It is not based on seniority. The military is performance based up or out system. You don’t make rank, you are out on your ass, with nothing, unlike the civilian side.

        2. The military pension IS NOT a pension. It is a retainer. You may be called back when the government so chooses (although this rarely happens).

        3. The pension is a retention tool. Once the “cool” wears off, NO ONE would continue doing what these guys do for what they are paid.

        Q: What percentage of the military makes it to a pension V? Any clue?

        A: 17%

        It’s a deferred pay package that the military offers, knowing full well less than a fifth will collect.

        That said, it cannot continue and will need to be replaced by some sort of 401K type deal.

        1. There are two types of military ‘pensions’.

          The one those of us who served 20 years (and if you only make it to 19.99 years you’re shit out of luck – you guys with your 401k are lucky in that respect) is (for the Navy) a transfer to the Fleet Reserve.

          That means that I get a small retainer – something like 35 percent of my base pay (not including bonuses and allowances) starting at 20 and increasing to 50% at 30 years served – but I am subject to call up (and the UCMJ) until I am 65 – then its Social Security.

          But, I have to admit – unless we’re going to invade North Korea, there’s about .00000000001% chance I’ll ever get called up again so its basically free money.

          *That* is a voluntary thing that not everyone (but the majority do) takes.

          Get to 30 years active duty and you get a ‘real’ retirement – stipend for life with no further obligation.

          And its already being replaced by a 401k type deal. The Navy has the Thrift Savings Plan, a sort of 401k defined contributions plan that you can use alongside the traditional defined benefits plan.

          There’s been a lot of talk about reform of military retirement – the biggest hurdle is what Fd’A said, its a retention tool. get significantly past 10 years in and you simply can’t afford to bail since if you don’t make 20 you leave with nothing.

          1. Active duty military pensions don’t stop at age 65. They’re for life.…..ault2.aspx

      4. Well it obviously shouldn’t count as DOD spending since it’s an entirely different department. But it is pretty clearly military-related spending, and with a larger and more active military today, you will be getting larger VA bills in the future.

      5. It’s super that you don’t think a REMF deserves a pension at 20. Please outline a business model that would make it attractive for military to be on the hook 24/7 for twenty years. The military pension is attractive because it has to be IOT retain people. It’s one of the few jobs I know of that requires families to frequently dislocated and put you on call 24/7.

        In addition, to make retirement pay based off the idea of location to the FEBA or some arbitrary point would work out fairly poor and makes your lack of practical military knowledge apparent.

        This is the price we pay for a professional military. If we want to change it we need to look at past models, which isn’t necessarily a bad idea. We did win the last major world war with a draft.

  16. What does the “Government” category represent? I thought the whole thing was “Government.”

  17. I’d cut that .9% “science” first. Any constitutional publicly-funded science goes on the military budget. NOAA wears those silly sailor suits.

    1. Reddit during TEH SEQUESTER was hilarious because obviously there was going to be no science done without the feds funding it, and thus all progress would cease.

    2. Eh, there is actually a pretty decent reason why NOAA and USPHS wear those silly uniforms.

  18. All you suckers complaining about the military budget can go suck it.

    Not that it couldn’t do with a substantial bit of slimming (like get cut in half, if I had my way) but SS, unemployment, and labor – heck, even medicare and health are larger expenditures.

    Seriously though – I don’t get the unemployment and labor bit. We have programs that pay people to work *and* programs that pay people to not work? Don’t they just end up canceling each other out while burning through huge piles of money?

    1. I believe SS is the only single item larger than the military, and it’s not that much larger (I believe military spending is higher if you include veteran’s benefits, Homeland Security, etc.). Also, if we’re talking just about what the income tax funds, the military is easily number one, since the payroll taxes go towards SS and Medicare (though they don’t completely cover the costs of the programs, obviously). All of these things need to be cut.

  19. The National Money Hole is the correct answer to the Federal Reserve.

  20. Still waiting for comments on Social Security / “welfare” overhead verses benefits (that could go for everything else as well). “Welfare reform” of the 1980s and 1990s, promoted as a way of reducing expenditure on welfare, increased expenditure dramatically; mostly in overhead costs … the modern prototype for kicking cronyism up a notch.

  21. Has anybody ever seen one of the budget charts sometimes created by leftists? They’ll show military spending a a huge chunk, because they leave out Social Security and Medicare, because those are entitlements and shouldn’t count, for some reason.

    1. If you were to draw the pie based upon the distribution of Income tax payments only that would make a bit of sense, since MC and SS have payroll taxes dedicated to provide most of their funding. Those streams don’t fully support them now, and haven’t since something like 2011, and thus the income taxes do cover that short fall, but nothing close to what this chart shows.

    2. I have seen such charts. Some lefty hung one on the wall in the building where I work. If you look up close, the poster has some fine print saying that the chart only shows “discretionary” spending, along with some BS abut why that’s the “right” way to present things. Hilarious.

  22. I know excel doesn’t have the best chart features – but you can do better than this. haha, jeez.

  23. Let’s see what the Social Security, unemployment etc. category contains. Social Security is supposed to be an insurance program.

  24. Unless those numbers add up to something like $1.40, then he is missing the deficit part.

  25. it’s almost as if he’s posting to be intentionally disruptive and trying to derail the conversation for the sole purpose of annoying and frustrating people.

  26. So, now that we’re including Medicare and Social Security taxes in our Excel pie charts can you libertarians inform the conservatives you vote for that that it’s time to stop saying 47% of people didn’t pay any taxes?

  27. As a socialist, I keep hearing from conservatives that if I want to pay more in taxes that I should make out an extra check to the government every year. So, in that spirit, I ask libertarians if they have sent back their Social Security check yet and only sought out health care from opt-out doctors? Do libertarians burn their bra AND their Medicare prescription cards when they go to protest the dreaded government?

    1. I would gladly send back my future SS checks if the Gov’n agrees to give me back all the money I put into it… with interest of course.

    2. They are forced to pay taxes by that of violence. The benefits are not, in libertarians’ opinions worth the costs, but given they have no choice but to pay the cost some benefit is better than none.

      But you knew that. Your argument is dishonest. Unless you want to announce that you are too stupid to see that?

    3. As a socialist, your ideas can only survive through force, and threats or acts of violence. You’ve never faced the consequences for what you advocate. That is why you are currently a socialist.

      Socialists, fascists and so on are afraid of freedom, and would rather individuals be weak and disarmed like them, so “top men” can do as they please.

  28. Flat tax, Fair tax or current tax? whatever, until we get to the point where we have ZERO national debt and a government small enough to live off of Constitutional taxes other than “income tax”, we’re all going to have keep paying. As will our kids and grand kids.

    As I see it?

    Step 1 = crash diet for government.
    Step 2 = pay off national debt
    Step 3 = reduce taxes? eventually eliminating income tax

  29. I am British. I am also numerate, and a quick scratch calculation suggests that the Federal government already spends about the same on health per person in the population as our cripplingly inefficient* NHS. This does not provide health cover to anyone who has insurance or is ineligible and has to pay. Can I assume that state government also spends on health? All this must be less efficient than even the NHS. So how is government involvement, expanding medical programmes etc going to reduce costs?

    *Inefficiency: my lefty friend was an accountant for a hospital trust. She said her department of six was doing the work of one or two in her previous private-sector experience. A mother wrote to the paper to say that her daughter had left an NHS job as she had little or nothing to do and it was boring. On her departure she told her manager that the job was not needed, completely redundant. The job was filled.

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