For many years the Tax Foundation has performed a fairly complex set of calculations to find a simple and sobering result: the calendar date that American taxpayers finally pay off their total annual toll to the government — that is, their individual local, state and federal tax bills as an aggregate. On average, Americans will pay off that onerous debt on Sunday, April 23 — one day earlier than last year. Still, it’s hardly cause for celebration. Taxpayers fortunate enough to live in Mississippi were freed from their overall tax burden back on April 5. In California we are still a few days away – May 1.
Americans will pay $3.5 trillion in federal taxes and $1.6 trillion in state and local taxes, for a total bill of more than $5.1 trillion, or 31 percent of the nation’s income. The government spends an average of $31,154 per household. So where does all that money go? By far the largest individual portion ($12,141) goes to the combination of Social Security and Medicare. The second-largest amount goes to programs lumped together under the “anti-poverty” banner ($6,143), with defense coming in third ($4,696).
A century ago, on the eve of World War I (and just after the passage of the Sixteenth Amendment) Tax Freedom Day occurred in late January. Although there’s been a little bit of relief since 2000, the year Tax Freedom Day fell on May 1 — the fact that we spend well past a quarter of each year rendering unto Caesar should give everyone pause and make us question how we came to this point.