American individuals and businesses paid $3.463 trillion in federal taxes in fiscal year (FY) 2019, equal to 16.3 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). Of these staggering totals, the federal government collected nearly half ($1.718 trillion) in individual income taxes, from somewhere around 150 million taxpayers, averaging over $11,000 per taxpayer.
As a taxpayer, do you ever wonder exactly where your tax dollars went in a given year? A new bill from Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX) and Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) would answer just that.
The Taxpayer Receipt Act would require the Treasury Department to provide each individual filing a federal tax return “a one-page estimate of how the taxpayer’s money was spent by the Government during the immediately preceding calendar year.” This an enhanced, improved version of a program the Obama administration ran from 2011 to 2014, which broke down federal spending into 14 broad categories, like health care and national defense, and 33 more specific subcategories.
A taxpayer receipt will make for more informed citizens, better able to question how lawmakers and federal agencies are spending their money. It may make debates about policy tradeoffs more robust. If the receipt includes net interest payments on the government’s debt, it will highlight for taxpayers the growing costs of America’s staggering $25.6 trillion federal debt.
The Taxpayer Receipt Act is simple and straightforward, but would make a major difference in connecting taxpayers with a federal government that is growing enormous in size and scope. Lawmakers would be wise to pass this into law, and NTU applauds Rep. Arrington and Sen. Braun for introducing the bill.