BUSINESS

Here's Where Your Taxes Go

The government spends about $1 on healthcare of every $4 that Americans pay in federal income taxes.

The nation's tax bill comes due on Monday, when Americans rushing to file their federal income tax returns may find themselves wondering: What am I paying for?

It can be a difficult question to answer, considering Washington's dysfunction and the bureaucratic nightmares often faced by everyday Americans wishing to accomplish mundane financial goals, such as making payments on their federal student loans.

Americans' list of grievances with government is long, from the veterans care scandal to crumbling roads and bridges. As a result, the public no longer trusts the federal government. Just 19 percent of Americans tell pollsters that they trust Washington to do what's right a majority of the time.

That's probably why about three in five Americans believe they're paying too much in taxes -- the most in 15 years, according to polling firm Gallup.

Federal spending of all those taxpayer dollars represents the nation's priorities. "Don't tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I will tell you what you value," Vice President Joe Biden said in 2012.

Figures from the White House show what those values are.

About $1 of every $4 spent by the federal government in the 2014 fiscal year that was funded by income tax payments goes to health care, making it the nation's costliest expense. Most of that money is spent on health care for low-income and elderly Americans.

An additional one-fourth of federal expenditures go to military spending and related activities, White House data show.

That money, which represents about half of taxpayer-funded federal spending, dwarfs spending on education, programs designed to aid low-income Americans, law enforcement and foreign aid.

In fact, less than 2 percent of federal spending goes to education, White House data show.

The so-called taxpayer receipt mostly excludes federal programs not funded by traditional income taxes, such as unemployment insurance and Social Security.

So on Monday (or Tuesday if you live in Maine or Massachusetts), if you're waiting in line at your local post office to mail your tax forms to the Internal Revenue Service, take a moment to consider whether you're getting enough bang for your buck.

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