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Where my money went, part 1

I do these things for fun. Really.

When I filed my taxes this year, some burning questions hit me. Mainly, I wanted to know two things – where did my tax money go, and how did it get there? Actually, I’m rather painfully aware of the answer to the second one with each passing paycheck, but the first one seems worth pursuing. So I did. It didn’t take that long to figure out in general how tax dollars are spent, and then apply that to my total tax payment to see how much money I personally spent on difference federal and state pursuits. And the results are in:

Federal Taxes

Social Security ($4,248) – I guess this is basic – most of that money goes to help retired people balance their budget, more or less. And, if I’m incredibly optimistic, I can hope that eventually somebody will do the same for me.

Defense ($3,772) – Perhaps I shouldn’t have been, but I was surprised to see that this item takes nearly 50% of the federal tax budget. I’m sure that some of those dollars are well-spent, but I’m also sure that most of those dollars are not. Or at least I don’t believe they should be spent the way they are, to be brief. That’s more money than I spent on groceries or a car last year.

Education, Employment, and Social Services ($1,058) – I’m going to have to do some research for part 2 of this post to figure out some specifics of where that money went.

California Taxes

K-12 Education ($1,046) – Seems good, and doing more seems better.

Health & Human Services ($833) – Again, I’ll have to look into this one.

Higher Education ($317) – So I’m contributing as much to California higher education (~$26/month) as I would pay to AT&T for a landline. Interesting.

Line items I’d like to do more research on include Natural Resources/Environment (US, $299), Energy (US, $248), Community & Regional Development (US, $126), and Non-agency departments (CA, $16). For “Environmental Protection” in California, I spent a whopping $2 last year. Considering that CA has some of the most stringent environmental law in the US, that must be an incredibly efficient operation. Or maybe the enforcement just isn’t what it could or should be?

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