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How Uncle Sam is spending your tax dollars


Every Tax Day, millions of Americans complain about how much money they hand over to the U.S. government and how Uncle Sam spends it. OK, that's every day. But seeing the actual personal numbers on Form 1040 tends get people to focus.

That's why the National Priorities Project (NPP), a Northampton, Massachusetts-based nonprofit that for almost 40 years has analyzed federal revenue and spending data, issues an annual receipt of where our tax dollars, primarily from individual income taxes, go.

Sources of federal revenue-jpg
Source: NPP and White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB)


Coronavirus shift: The military usually commands a major portion of our tax dollars. But due to (you guessed it) the COVID-19 pandemic, more than usual amounts last year went to health, unemployment, and labor, writes Ashik Siddique in NPP's blog post Tax Day 2022: We Got The Receipts.

The NPP image topping this post shows the break out, as does the more spread out vertical version below.


More and less spending: NPP was founded in 1983 to evaluate money lost in social spending in western Massachusetts under the tax and spending policies of the Ronald Reagan administration. That focus remains and is evident in the following Tax Day 2022 numbers highlighted by the group.

Its latest receipt, says NPP, shows the average taxpayer paid —

  • $929 just for Pentagon contractors in 2021, representing 18 days of work. That's nearly half the total contribution for the military, and it's more than five times the amount the same taxpayer contributed to K-12 education, $171.
  • $62 for nuclear weapons, and just $27 for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • $62 for deportations and border control, versus just $5 for renewable energy.
  • $18 for federal prisons, and just $7 for anti-homelessness programs.

If you want to see how your taxes were spent based on NPP's analysis, check out the group's personalized interactive online tax receipt tool. You also can get a look at the average tax receipt for your state.

And if you don't like what you see, NPP lets you see what your tax receipt would look like if you, not Congress or the White House, made federal spending choices.

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