What do taxes go toward?
Every year we are required to fill out paperwork to determine how much tax we are going to be charged. We write a check if we haven't had enough taken out of our paychecks or we get a refund on taxes we overpaid.
Unfortunately we don't make any interest off the money that has been "borrowed" from us during the months leading up to tax day. Usually, that is the end of our involvement, but let's take a look at just where that tax money goes and what it is used for.
A third of our tax money (33 per cent) goes toward financing the many aspects of the military. This includes the FBI, nuclear defence facilities, the cleanup of old nuclear sites, the housing for our military, military personnel paychecks, ongoing conflicts around the world, weapons purchasing, research and development. Billions of dollars are allocated for this category and this is what income tax was originally started for in World War 1.
The highest part of the budget of the government (24 per cent) goes toward paying existing citizens their Social Security checks.
This is supported by our paychecks, specifically from our contributions to the Social Security Administration and not income tax.
Don't forget we also have to pay for the massive personnel network that has to manage this whole system, plus all the administrative expenses and insurance costs. There is a lot of speculation on the efficacy of the Social Security Administration and how long it can last with such a large amount of money being paid out to senior citizens, but as you can see here, a fourth of our national budget collected from us as citizens pays for this department.
Medicare is another huge expense (16 per cent). However, this income is taken solely from our specific contributions and not from income tax. It is one of the main reasons that there is so much outcry from the public on the need for health care reform. Medicare is used to pay for medical expenses for people aged 65 and older as well as other handicapped individuals. Sometimes there is additional expense to the consumer, but by far, the majority of the expense comes from the tax dollars we send in.
This is an area that most people don't think about unless they are recipients of 19.5 per cent of the income tax collected.
We as a country set aside billions of dollars to pay for the retirement of all of our military personnel as well as all the people who have been disabled while in service. Of course, we realise that our tax dollars finance the whole administration of unemployment, food stamps, housing assistance, child support collection, foster and adoptive care of children. This is an extremely complex subheading and it supports a lot of people who otherwise could not support themselves without radical changes.
This area includes almost 12.9 per cent of the total income tax collected and is for Indian health care, disease control, cole miners' health, state children's health, the Food and Drug Administration and a whole bunch of agencies that fall under this category of health, as well as food safety and inspection.
A large percentage (12.5 per cent) of our tax dollars goes toward paying off interest the various departments have incurred from debts not paid.
This amount is actually half of what our country pays out for education, the natural sciences, transportation or even energy. Unfortunately, our taxes are financing a business (the government) that is not profitable and so this is inevitable at this stage in history.
The remainder of our tax dollars (26 per cent) goes to energy, central government, agriculture, science and space technology, natural resources, administration of justice, international affairs and education.
Although this is still a lot of money, it has to be stretched across the majority of our active governmental services. It explains why there is a lot of complaining about the lack of money for interest groups across the board.