Our tax dollars should make life better, not go to waste. But the average taxpayer had to shell out over $1,000 for military contractors alone last year.

by Lindsay Koshgarian, Otherwords

Many of us rushed to file our taxes before this year’s April 18 deadline. While we all hope for a refund to help pay the rent or cover a vacation, we also want our taxes themselves to pay for worthwhile things.

Every year, my project at the Institute for Policy Studies creates a tax receipt to help people see what their taxes paid for. Here’s what we learned this year.

On the one hand, our federal income taxes fund a lot of good, popular things. The expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act has saved lives. Food stamps (also known as SNAP) feed millions of hungry children and families. And Medicare will be there for all of us as we age.

Cartridges with bullets in a bandolier, dollar bills

On the other hand, there’s a lot that we might want to do differently.

You probably expect that some of your federal income taxes go to the military. But did you know that the average taxpayer spent $1,087 on private military contractors alone? That’s more than double the $474 that went towards paying the troops.

Unfortunately, that means you’re subsidizing multimillion-dollar salaries for contractor CEOs while many troops rely on food stamps. (You also help pay for those.)

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