April 15th, 2011
04:59 PM ET

White House unveils 'receipt' for taxes you pay

By CNNMoney's Jennifer Liberto
WASHINGTON (CNN)- On the eve of tax day, the White House unveiled a new online tool that estimates how much of an individual's taxes pay for things such as war, NASA and the interest on the deficit.

However, the online calculator obscures how much of an individual's tax dollars goes to a controversial expense that Republicans have been railing about - bailing out government-owned mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - by lumping it with other expense such as commerce, transportation and government administration.

President Obama said in his State of the Union address that he wanted to give taxpayers an itemized receipt for how tax dollars are spent.

And the unveiling of the new online calculator couldn't be timelier, coming on the weekend when many are crunching their own tax bills.
"Just like you and I can get an itemized receipt for the purchases we make in the grocery store, the president believes we deserve transparency as to where our government's dollars are spent," said Aneesh Chopra, White House Chief Technology Officer.

But outside observers said the White House could have been even more transparent with its online receipt.

For example, the online tax receipt blunts the tens of billions pumped into Fannie and Freddie by offsetting it with dollars coming in from banks returning their share of the Troubled Asset Relief Program bailout. The bank portion of TARP is turning a profit for the federal government, but there's still a net deficit of $19 billion due to losses on bailouts to the auto industry, insurer American International Group and Treasury's mortgage assistance program.

Third Way health and fiscal policy analyst David Kendall called the White House calculator a "tremendous effort."

But his own online taxpayer receipt crafted for Third Way, a center-left think tank, offered a lot more details on how tax dollars are spent, breaking out such things as Amtrak, foster care and adoption assistance, and ocean oil drilling regulation and natural resource leases.

He also noted that the White House lumped a lot of categories together and didn't account for Social Security and transportation highway trust fund spending.

"The question is, if you take all that stuff out, are you really giving an accurate picture?" Kendall said. "It's a great idea but the execution is a little challenging."


Topics: President Obama • The News

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soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. victor

    why can't journalists get with the present (called the future by some) and POST THE LINK to the site you are talking about! it is not that hard!

    April 15, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  2. budget_watcher

    For an impartial look at the numbers, try http://sagedrive.com/fedbudget. For your personal tax receipt, enter your total income and payroll tax in the "normalization" window. Or enter 100.0 to display percentages.

    April 17, 2011 at 2:38 am |
  3. oliverbarlow88

    Are you are small business owner? like myself, Refi or anything is very difficult for us. It is not easy now a days but still I was able to do refinance with "123 Mortgage Refinance" where you can find the rates with out SSN! they will help you

    April 17, 2011 at 4:45 am |