Smart TaxesSmart Taxes

Just where is your tax money going?

An interactive tool lets you see how tax rates and spending have changed in the past 70 years.

By Kay Bell Feb 9, 2010 1:02PM

As you fill out your tax return this filing season, you might find yourself wondering where that money you forwarded to Uncle Sam via payroll withholding is going.

If you end up owing even more once your Form 1040 calculations are complete, the question is even more pressing. 


Well, USA Today has developed an interactive tax tracking tool. 

The screen shot below gives you an idea of what the graphic will indicate. Essentially, it lets you enter your salary and see how tax rates and spending priorities have changed over time, from 1940 through 2010.



For example, for the $100,000 salary I entered (which, by the way, I chose because it's a nice round number, not because that's what I make), the calculator says in 2010 I'll owe the IRS $26,766.

Most of those taxes, $6,692, will go to national defense programs. Social Security is a close second at $6,200. The Agriculture Department received the smallest portion of the taxes, only $248.

By comparison, 10 years ago $4,907 of the overall $17,209 tax bill went to national defense. But second back then was $3,284 toward net interest. Social Security was third, with $3,181 going toward that retirement fund. Again, agriculture brought up the rear, receiving only $194.

Give the tax tracker a shot and see where your tax dollars went decades ago and where they likely will end up this year.


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