Tax payer receipt

Love this idea.  Americans are so amazingly clueless about where their taxes go.  Via Ezra Klein, Third Way has an idea for a “taxpayer receipt”:


And here’s a bit of the spot-on commentary that goes with it:

For many Americans, the amount they pay in taxes is larger than any purchase they make during the year, but studies show they know almost nothing about where that money goes to.

This contributes to ridiculous beliefs, like the view that 20% of government spending goes to foreign aid, for example. An electorate unschooled in basic budget facts is a major obstacle to controlling the nation’s deficit, not to mention addressing a host of economic and social problems. We suggest that everyone who files a tax return receive a “taxpayer receipt.” This receipt would tell them to the penny what their taxes paid for based on the amount they paid in federal income taxes and FICA.

I’m sure this would not make a huge difference, but anything that would help to combat the phenomenally mis-informed beliefs of Americans– especially where federal dollars go– would have to be a good thing.  I do wonder what inane arguments Republicans would come with to oppose this.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

One Response to Tax payer receipt

  1. Josh W says:

    Even better, make it a graph, so you can visually see how things like debt interest and war are costing everyone so much more than anything else they might potentially be upset about:

    *Five times as much as foreign aid
    *Ten times as Pell Grants and NASA
    *One THOUSAND times as much as arts funding

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