How are your tax dollars spent?

Although this interactive calculator was released by the White House in April of this year, I had not seen it until recently. With all of the current politicking and campaigning, it was nice to see something that allowed me to drill down into some details of tax spending– normally presented in a pretty dry and boring way — with this tool that is easy to understand.

You can either enter your own 2011 tax payments for Social Security, Medicare, and income tax, or choose an income estimate. The income estimates include various income scenarios and family compositions–from $25,000 income for a single individual with no children to an $80,000 income for a family that was married with two children–and clearly specify the assumptions made about deductions and tax credits. The scenarios enable you to see how the proportion of taxes paid shifts according to total income and family structure, and the receipt provides a detailed breakdown of the disbursement of federal income taxes.

2011 Receipt for a married couple with one child earning $50,000 Continue reading

“47 percent” and other statistics

Last week’s release of the now infamous Mother Jones video of Romney’s comments  on the “47 percent” of Americans who don’t pay income taxes has everyone talking about the U.S. tax system.  Despite this election cycle’s relative dearth of substantive, detailed policy discourse, the campaigns and the media have indeed provided the public with a lot of useful information on the way taxes work in this country.  The terms “Capital Gains” and “carried interest” have entered the common vernacular and it seems that everyone now knows about the “Buffet Rule” and the tax rates for certain types of income.

If any good has come out of Romney’s comments on the “47 percent,” it is that the public now has a better understanding of those folks who have been labeled by some on the right as “lucky duckies.”  The left has been quick to argue that these lucky duckies are actually not so lucky; and by now many of us have seen or heard the statistics complied by the non-partisan Tax Policy Center: Continue reading