Here’s a brilliant idea: Show taxpayers exactly what their taxes pay for. Nobody likes paying taxes, and most taxpayers tend to believe a lion’s share of their taxes go for things they hate. They exaggerate federal spending on such things as foreign aide.
So a group called Third Way, a moderately liberal think tank, (h/t Matt Yglesias) has come up with a typical receipt for a taxpayer earning $34,140 and paying $5,000 in federal income tax and FICA:
Third Way explained why they chose the $34, 140 figure:
According to the IRS website, in 2008 the median tax filer in America had an adjusted gross income of $34,140 and paid $2,790 in federal income taxes.2 Assuming that all of that income was earned through wages, this filer would also contribute $2,610 to Social Security and Medicare through FICA. That is a total of $5,400 in federal tax and FICA payments. For most people, that is an enor- mous sum of money—it certainly is for the median taxpayer.