Senators Scott Brown, R-Mass., and Bill Nelson, D-Fla., introduced a bill Wednesday that would give taxpayers an itemized receipt showing where their money is being spent and how much the federal government borrows every year.
Under the bipartisan legislation, every taxpayer who files an income tax return would receive an itemized receipt—similar to a grocery store receipt—from the IRS that lists where their payroll and income taxes are spent. The receipt would include key categories such as the interest on the national debt, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, national defense, education, veterans’ benefits, environmental protection, foreign aid—and, last but not least, Congress.
Taxpayers also would be directed to a Web site where they could get more detailed information on programs not included on the one-page receipt. Additionally, the receipt would provide taxpayers with the amount of debt per American—which currently is more than $45,000.
“During this tough economy, American taxpayers deserve to know exactly how the government is spending their hard-earned dollars,” Brown said in a statement. “Our bipartisan legislation will help give Americans the tools they need to better understand federal spending. As we work together to rein in our spending and tackle our national debt, it is important that we provide transparency and accountability to the process to help us determine what spending we need and what we can live without.”
The bill will be heard by the Senate Finance Committee, of which Nelson is a member. “Taxpayers have a right to know where their money goes, how much Uncle Sam is borrowing on their behalf, and what they get in return for it,” said Nelson.
Separately Google has introduced a similar concept with its “Data Viz Challenge” showing people how their tax money is spent. The Google challenge is based on a Web site called WhatWePayFor.com that uses public data to estimate how tax money is spent. Visitors enter their income and filing status, and the Web site generates a table showing their contributions to various parts of the federal budget. Google has teamed up with the not-for-profit art and technology center Eyebeam to challenge developers to create more interactive displays of how tax money is spent. For more information, visit http://datavizchallenge.org.
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