What You Pay For

Ever wonder how The United States spends your federal tax money?
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20 Federal Government
Spending Functions

As citizens of the United States, we help support our government through our tax contributions. Social Security and Medicare are withdrawn from our individual pay checks and the rest through our annual taxes. Our tax dollars are sent to and handled by specific Federal spending functions which are represented by the visualization on the left. Learn more about specific functions and your contribution to them by using the navigation below.

To see more information simply mouse over the individual elements in the visualization to the left.
To read more details about the definitions of each of the functions, view this function break down

Social Security

The payroll tax-financed programs: Old-Age, Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance (OASDI), are commonly referred to as Social Security. This function includes Social Security benefit payments and funds to administer the program.

The future of these funds is unstable due to the increasingly unbalanced ratio between workers(contributers) and Social Security recipients.

National Defense

Includes the activities of the Department of Defense (DoD), the nuclear-weapons related activities of the Department of Energy (DoE), and the National Nuclear Security Administration, and several other agencies.

The Department of Defense / Military receives most of our tax money at nearly $700 billion.

Income Security

Income Security are programs that provide assistance to low-income persons, and benefits to certain retirees, persons with disabilities, and the unemployed. This includes items such as, income support, housing support, food stamps, and foster care.

Housing assistance programs account for the largest share of discretionary funding in this function.


Medicare provides health insurance to senior citizens and persons with disabilities.


Aimed at protecting the health of the general population and workers in their places of employment, providing health services for under-served populations, and promoting training for the health care workforce.

This function includes anti-bioterrorism activities.

Net Interest

The interest paid by the federal government to private and foreign government holders of U.S. Treasury securities.

This amount is slightly offset by interest income received by the federal government on loans and cash balances and by earnings of the National Railroad Retirement Investment Trust.

Veterans Benefits and Services

Includes veterans' medical care, compensation and pensions, education and rehabilitation benefits, and housing programs.

Almost 90 percent of appropriated funding here goes to veterans' health care.


Transportaion includes programs for highways, mass transit, aviation, and maritime activities. This function also includes two components of the Department of Homeland Security: the Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration.

Education, Training, Employment, and Social Services

This grouping includes funding for the Department of Education, social services programs within the Department of Health and Human Services, and employment and training programs within the Department of Labor.

This is where our federal art funding comes from!

International Affairs

Contains funding for: U.S. embassies and consulates; developing nations; fledgling democracies; promoting U.S. exports abroad; international organizations; international peacekeeping, and allied military assistance.

Funding for all of these activities constitutes about one percent of the federal budget.


This function displays the budgetary effect of proposals that cannot easily be distributed across other budget functions.

This is the lint trap of our government spending functions.

Administration of Justice

Consists of federal law enforcement programs, litigation and judicial activities, correctional operations, and state and local justice assistance.

The FBI, DEA, & ATF are part of this function.

Natural Resources and Environment

Included in this function are programs concerned with environmental protection and enhancement; recreation and wildlife areas; and the development and management of the nation's land, water, and mineral resources.

Includes The Army Corps of Engineers, and The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

General Science, Space, and Technology

This function includes the National Science Foundation (NSF), some programs at N.A.S.A., and general science programs at the Department of Energy (DOE).

General Government

The general goverment includes the activities of The White House and the Executive Office of the President, the legislative branch, and programs that carry out the legislative and administrative responsibilities of the federal government.


The agriculture function includes farm income stabilization, agricultural research, and other services administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The discretionary programs include research and education programs, economics and statistics services, administration of the farm support programs, farm loan programs, and meat and poultry inspection.

Community and Regional Development

Includes federal programs to improve community economic conditions, promote rural development, and assist in federal preparations for and response to disasters.

This is where the Bureau of Indian Affairs receives their funding.


This function contains civilian energy and environmental programs in the Department of Energy (DOE). This function also includes the Rural Utilities Service of the Department of Agriculture, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

This does not include the activities found in National Defense or General Science, Space and Technology.

Undistributed Offsetting Receipts

This function is a credit that comprises major offsetting receipt items that would distort the funding levels of other functional categories if they were distributed to them.

Commerce and Housing Credit

This function is a credit that includes a mortgage credit, the Postal Service, deposit insurance, and other advancement of commerce. The majority of our discretionary and mandatory spending is in this function.

Tax Brackets
The U.S. federal tax system is currently split into 6 brackets. Click to scale the visualization to different ranges.
Your Taxes over 25 Years
Taxes have changed markedly in the past 25 years. Enter other incomes to see the differences.
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