Friday, March 16, 2012

Where Your Taxes Go

Last year, What We Pay For had a competition to see who could create the best visualization that showed where all the money a person paid in taxes went. There were lots of interesting ways people approached this task, and all of the finalists an honorable mentions are worth checking out.

The winner, Where Did My Tax Dollars Go? by Anil Kandangath, makes a pie chart with clickable information based on the income data you give it.

For example, if you were single and had made $40,000, this would have been the chart breaking down where your taxes had gone, with the 'National Defense' slice clicked on and thus broken down in more detail off to the side.

This is data for the tax year 2009 (spending year 2010), and assuming no deductions or exemptions. Though it's not shown in this screen capture, this person would have spent $23, or 0.3% of the total taxes, on Aircraft Procurement for the Air Force for that year. In various other categories, this person would have spent $10 on Space Operations, $9 on Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and $2 on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

The runner-up, Fred Chasen's Every Day is Tax Day, chose to focus not just on the amount of money, but also the amount of time you spent each day working for the money you paid in taxes. There is also the option of changing the year for the data you wish to see, from 1984 to 2015.

Here we can see the amount of time spent working for the Department of Commerce, and also specifically the Judiciary Information Technology Fund-- less than a second.

Other entries include splitting up the taxes you paid into how many burgers, beers, iPods, and other things you could have bought instead, and one that allows you to compare your priorities to the government's.

See more visualizations here.