It’s pretty well established that the government has out of control spending.  That exact phrase, “out of control,” polled with 83% agreement at Fox News – in 2013.  Three years later, the situation is much worse, with our debt having climbed from 15 trillion to 19 trillion.  But the average citizen of America just doesn’t really care, or doesn’t know how it affects them.

There is something every American cares about: their tax refund.  It’s tax refund season, and plenty of companies are going to advertise their products as a great thing to spend your unexpected sum of money on.  This always struck me as preposterous, since tax refunds were your money in the first place!

Perhaps Americans would feel less excited about their tax refunds if it came with a receipt of what their tax money was being spend on.  The White House did something like this in 2014, though it was just a web tool that gave you general estimations based on inputted values.  What this would be is a true receipt, a piece of paper that came with your refund detailing what your taxes are spent on.  This would be no generalized pie chart, but would exhaustively list the program names and costs of each one on this quite-long piece of the paper.

This is what it could look like…


… and some huge points of waste would immediately begin to stick out:

1. Washington spends $92 billion on corporate welfare (excluding TARP) versus $71 billion on homeland security. [2]

2. Washington spends $25 billion annually maintaining unused or vacant federal properties. [3]

3. Government auditors spent the past five years examining all federal programs and found that 22 percent of them — costing taxpayers a total of $123 billion annually — fail to show any positive impact on the populations they serve. [4]

When you think about it, the government has a responsibility to make us aware of what they’re spending our money on.  That’s because the government’s money isn’t really the government’s money: it’s the taxpayers’ money.  And we taxpayers have a right to know where our money is being spent.

Right now, these huge points of government waste are only visible to those who are actively involved in keeping track of the government.  If the average citizen was made aware of the huge budgetary and spending problem in the federal government, it would not be hard to make a change.  Getting people’s attention is the first step.

This is a call for legislation for the government to issue a spending receipt with every taxpayer’s payment to the IRS.