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taxes

How Your Tax Dollars Are Spent

A new taxpayer receipt tool shows you where your money is going.

Now that you've filed your 2010 tax return and possibly even written a fat check to the U.S. Treasury, you might be curious exactly how the federal government is going to spend your tax dollars. To find out, try the new taxpayer receipt tool at Whitehouse.gov.

President Obama promised during his State of the Union address that taxpayers would be able to go online this year and see a breakdown of how their tax dollars are spent. The new tool makes this relatively easy.

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You have to enter the amounts you paid for Social Security, Medicare and federal income taxes. You probably won't be able to do this from memory, so you'll have to pull out a copy of your 2010 return. The tool does give you the option to select an income level if you don't have your tax information handy. But the income levels in the drop-down list are pretty limited and likely won't give you an accurate account of how your tax dollars are being spent.

You might be surprised to see how many dollars you contributed to, say, defense, health care or the nation's debt payment (take our quiz to see how much you know about the deficit). Our How Uncle Sam Spends Your Tax Dollars will provide you with even more information about where your money actually goes.

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What might surprise you even more than how your tax dollars are spent is how the nation's tax bill is distributed among its citizens. Kiplinger's has an easy-to-use tool that shows what portion of the tax burden you bear according to your income status.

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