Slideshow: Seven Tax Day Interactive Visualizations to Help Understand Where Your Money Goes
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Today is Tax Day. While most Americans think their tax bill is fair, many have no idea where exactly their hard-earned money goes. Let's face it, many leaders in government aren't so clear on how much tax money goes to all the different government-funded programs.
So Google and Eyebeam hosted a contest to find the best data visualization of where our tax money goes. Here are seven standouts. Think of them as visual receipts for your tax bill. One of them actually is, and it's pretty funny.
Anil Kandangath won $5,000 for his first place entry Where Did My Tax Dollars Go?, an extremely easy to use visual calculator of government spending.
On the left column you see what percentage of your paycheck goes to Uncle Sam: 19.6 percent if you are single making $40,000, 32 percent if you make $400,000.
Then an interactive pie chart pops up telling you where that money goes within the government. It's elegant and simple at first glance, but more detail displays when you click each budget item.
Runner up Every Day Is Tax Day takes a more conceptual approach to enlightening us about how our professional effort oils the wheels of government. Tax contributions are translated into time.
If you have tax withheld in your paycheck, then you pay taxes every day. So designer Fred Chasen created this clock that calculates how many hours of your daily labor go to pay for government services. For instance, if you earn $50,000 a year (and actually work an eight-hour day), then two hours of your workday go to taxes. You can see how many minutes go to defense, education, and so on. And then you can slide a time line to compare this to past years.
Plus, it's an actual working clock.
Another take on the time concept is What Do You Work For. This version shows us where our money would go if we started paying our taxes in full on January 1.
A person making $50,000 doesn't get cash in hand until April 6, before that, it's all taxes. Thirteen days to national defense, thirteen to social security, two days to education, training, employment, and social services combined.
But eight months tax-free sounds nice.
This impressive idea doesn't work so well on your office computer. That's because Budget Climb is a Kinect video game. Watch the video to see how you can, hop, climb, and float through a bar chart world of government spending.
A really great idea, especially if you loved the original Tron.
For a good chuckle, this visualization called Can I Get a Receipt with That actually gives you a (fake) paper receipt for your taxes. The fun part is you can see how much each budget line item cost you in dollars, or if you prefer, beer, Chipotle burritos, iPod touches, or other popular consumer goods.
My share of interest on the national debt could have bought me almost 1,500 beers or around 250 McDonalds burgers. It makes paying taxes seem healthy for a whole new reason.
Lest all of these elaborate images of massive dollar figures leave you feeling over-burdened by government dues, this data visualization flips that emotional impulse on its head.
I Like Taxes, They Buy Things shows us the good our taxes do in the hands of the government.
Last but not least, the interactive slideshow Tax Mapper lets you compare spending over time by line item. Some costs just keep getting more expensive, like social security, others vacillate depending on which party was in power, like defense.
This one is for the politicos who want to see which president really cut or boosted spending by topic.