More Than Half Of Americans Disagree With How Their Tax Dollars Are Spent

Staff Report

Friday, February 14th, 2020

A majority of Americans not only disapprove of how the government spends their tax dollars, 51% also believe they are overtaxed. This is according to a new GOBankingRates survey aimed at getting to the bottom of how Americans view taxation as well as how they want their tax dollars to be spent.

Whether it's balancing your checkbook at home or the government's allocation of tax dollars for programs and services, budgeting comes down to priorities. GOBankingRates' survey produced some rather interesting takeaways on where Americans believe their taxes could be more effectively spent.

Here are some of the key findings from the survey:

Only 18% of Americans believe their tax dollars are being spent effectively.

57% of men and 45% of women believe they are overtaxed.

Men and women also agree that social insurance (e.g., Social Security and Medicare) as well as education should be the top government spending priorities.

Despite the aggressive push for climate change action, less than 30% of Americans think the environment is a top priority for their tax dollars. Democrats ranked education as well as social insurance ahead of the environment while only 12% of Republicans believe the environment should be considered a top spending priority.

Meanwhile, Republicans believe social insurance, defense and international security, and infrastructure should be the top government spending priorities when it comes to their tax dollars.

Republicans and Democrats are also sharply divided on public assistance programs (e.g., SNAP and Medicaid) with more than half of Republicans saying too much is spent on them while 65% of Democrats believe not enough is spent. The U.S. government spent nearly $500 billion on these programs in 2018.

GOBankingRates' findings show a majority of Americans are not pleased with how much they're being taxed, and a recent Tax Foundation report1 shows Americans spend more money on taxes than food, housing and clothing combined.

"It may not be all that surprising to hear most Americans don't approve of how their tax dollars are spent," said Cameron Huddleston, award-winning personal finance writer for GOBankingRates. "However, it's important to note that the survey highlights that a significant percentage of taxpayers -- 27% -- don't even know where their tax dollars are going. This lack of knowledge about how their money is being used might be contributing to a sense that it's being used ineffectively."