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After the hard work, where does the tax money go?

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 30 2013 8:30 a.m. MST

Sure, you know what tax season means: forms, stress, countdowns to April 15 and hopes of a nice tax return. But where does all of the tax money go?

In 2011, the federal government spent $3.6 trillion. That is 24 percent of America’s Gross Domestic Product, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Taxes funded $2.2 trillion of that spending.

On the whole, tax dollars are split as seen in the chart below. A large portion, 20 percent, goes to Defense and International Security Assistance. That’s $718 billion. Another 20 percent goes to Social Security, which devours $731 billion.

With that much budget for social security, 35.6 million people who are retired receive about $1,229 in benefits per month. It also helped 2.9 million spouses and children of those retired. Additionally, 6.3 million spouses or children of deceased workers were given benefits.

Tax dollar use in 2012

In 2011 a large portion of the budget went to defense and supporting military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2011, that funding reached $159 billion. In 2012 national defense increased to 24.9 percent of the budget.

With the start of President Barack Obama’s new term and recently resolved "fiscal cliff" issues, taxes in 2013 are anticipated to increase for everyone — not just the rich, according to a Daily Ticker article.

"In the long term [Obama] is going to need to raise taxes on more than just the rich," Len Burman, a professor of public affairs at Syracuse University and co-founder of the bipartisan Tax Policy Center, told The Daily Ticker. "The budget problem isn't going to be solved without broader-based tax increases, preferably done in the context of tax reform and also serious entitlement reform. We're not going to be able to solve this on the tax side alone."

Some sites, like Where did my Tax Dollars Go? show a personalized breakdown. Although the statistics are taken from the 2009 tax year, it shows specific amounts for each category.

For example, a single person making $38,000 paid about $7,335 total taxes. That is a 19.3 percent. Specifically, 16 percent of that, or $1,193 of your taxes, went to Medicare.

EMAIL: alovell@deseretnews.com

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