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Where Your Tax Dollars Went Last Year

The average taxpayer in Missouri paid more than $10,200 in federal income tax last year. (Veronica Carter)
The average taxpayer in Missouri paid more than $10,200 in federal income tax last year. (Veronica Carter)
April 15, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The weekend is ahead, but some Missourians will be spending it crunching the numbers on their tax returns ahead of Monday's filing deadline. But do taxpayers realize exactly where their money goes?

The National Priorities Project's annual breakdown of income tax spending by the federal government showed that the average American paid nearly $13,000 in federal income taxes in 2015. Lindsay Koshgarian, the project's research director, explained how much of each tax dollar is spent.

"Health care at 28 cents, over 25 cents went to the Pentagon and military, and after that everything is much smaller pieces," she said. "So, for instance, while 25 cents of your dollar went to the Pentagon and military, less than 4 cents went to education."

The average taxpayer in Missouri paid more than $10,200 in federal income tax last year. Income taxes are the biggest source of federal revenue, which Koshgarian said essentially means taxpayers pay the federal government's bills. She said that's why it's important for anyone who pays taxes to know exactly how tax dollars are spent.

According to the analysis, health-care spending for the first time was more than military spending. Koshgarian said that's because the costs of health care keep rising.

"That's connected to things like the government's inability to negotiate drug prices through Medicaid, and it's also because there's been a big expansion in Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act," she said. "A lot more people are now receiving Medicaid, and right now this cost is being picked up by the federal government, and we're seeing that in our tax dollars."

Koshgarian noted that while 25 cents of every dollar is spent on the military, only 6 cents of that goes to service members in the form of pay and benefits.

"The vast majority of what we spend on the Pentagon is for services and procurement, and over half of it goes to private contractors," she said, "so there is an entire industry that exists just because of Pentagon spending."

Missouri's tax receipt is online here and here.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MO