It’s that time of year when we celebrate the risen Christ who calls us into the world in service! It’s also the time of year when the April 15 deadline looms and many wonder, “What do I owe this year?” “Will I get a return, and if so, how much?” “Did I complete all the right forms and attach all the right documents?”

Women Thrive tweeted a very interesting resource last week called, “Your Federal Taxpayer Receipt.” This is a resource designed to help you understand how and where your tax dollars are being spent. Since you’ve got your tax info handy, simply enter your social security tax, Medicare tax and income tax amounts to calculate your receipt. (If you don’t have those handy, you can select a more generic income estimate, too.)

As I always wonder when I share my numbers with you all in these handy tools, can you trace it back to me somehow? Well, throwing caution to the wind, I can tell you all that I paid about an 18 percent tax rate in 2011 (My total income and payroll taxes on the calculator divided by my total income). Wowee. Let’s learn more.

Social Security and Medicare taxes make up about 20 percent of the taxes I paid, but the remainder of what you and I paid is on income, which go to a variety of services including:

  • national defense (24.9%)
  • health care (23.7%)
  • job and family security (19.1%)
  • education and job training (3.6%)
  • veterans benefits (4.5%)
  • natural resources, energy and environment (2.0%)
  • international affairs (1.6%)
  • science, space and technology programs (1.0%)
  • immigration, law enforcement and administration of justice (2.0)
  • agriculture (0.7%)
  • community, area and regional development (0.5%)
  • response to natural disasters (0.4%)
  • additional government programs (7.9%)
  • net interest (8.1%)

The percentages stay the same, but the receipt will give you the amount in dollars that your taxes were spent on in those categories. What do you think?

Mikka serves as program director for constituent engagement and interpretation with ELCA World Hunger. To join the network and for more information on how you can get involved, write us at