Health

White House unveils tax calculator designed to give taxpayers a receipt

In a move that the Obama administration is certain to trumpet as a hallmark of its commitment to transparency in government, the White House has launched a federal taxpayer receipt that allows Americans to see an exact breakdown of where their dollars are being spent.

Taxpayers have the option of entering the amount of Social Security, Medicare, and income taxes they pay annually or to use approximate numbers that the calculator generates based on income level and number of children.

"As tax day approaches, tools like this are going to give the American people the ability to exactly see where their tax dollars are going," said White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra on a conference call with reporters. He said the tax receipt was intended to make government more accountable and accessible to the average American.

In the past, Chopra said, people would have had to "wade through volumes and technical documents" to find out more about how their tax dollars were spent.

While a handy tool to give taxpayers a look into government, it also allows the administration to demonstrate that the bulk of federal spending - about 50 percent of the taxes each person pays - goes to national defense and health care spending, which President Obama has pledged to reform through defense budget cuts and the Affordable Care Act. It also shows that only 0.7 percent of spending goes to development and humanitarian assistance, a popular target of scorn by many voters affiliated with the tea party.

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// April 19