I finished my taxes last night in time to take a look at what my family “bought” with its tax money. I was only interested in expenses funded by our federal income taxes in 2008 (because that was what I was paying today), so I excluded items like social security and Medicare (paid for through payroll taxes) and roads (paid for by the gas tax). The Greenan family (my wife and I and two adult children, both full-time students that work as well) paid a total of $27,011.23 in federal income tax. Between us we worked for six employers and ran one small business.
Here’s where our money was spent (ignore the rounding errors):
Tomorrow I’ll muse a little bit on where I think I got my money’s worth, where I didn’t and where I’d be willing to pay a little more, but the immediate thought that strikes me is that I’m glad I’m not trying to balance the federal budget. Out of the total of $27,017.08 we paid in taxes, $20,649.09 is committed to defense, interest and basic welfare protections. Any of those would be tough to cut, so there isn’t much money left to cover all the remaining functions of the federal government.