So the federal government has your tax money. Now what will they do with it?

FILE - In this April 13, 2014, file photo shows the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) headquarters building in Washington. (AP Photo/J. David Ake, File)

With the 2017 tax filing deadline now past, Americans may find themselves wondering what the federal government is doing with the trillions of dollars it just collected from them. The short answer is mostly insurance programs of one kind or another and national defense, but the details get a bit more complicated.

The federal government primarily draws funding from three sources: individual income taxes, payroll taxes, and corporate income taxes. Other taxes contribute smaller amounts of revenue and, in 2017, about 14 percent of government spending will be financed by borrowing.

Nearly half of federal revenue comes from individual income taxes and a third is brought in through payroll taxes. The payroll taxes are intended to cover the cost of Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment insurance.

In 2014, the federal government collected nearly $1.38 trillion in income taxes. Of the 148.6 million people who filed tax returns, 35 percent did not pay any income taxes, according to the IRS. More than 31 million filers received payments from the government in tax credits, totaling $90 billion.

Most of those who do not pay income tax do contribute payroll taxes. According to the Tax Policy Center, in 2016, 18 percent of households paid no taxes at all, while 26.4 percent paid payroll taxes but no income taxes. Those who pay neither tax are typically retirees or the unemployed.

According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), the federal government spent about $12,000 per person in the U.S. in 2015. In total, the government spent $3.7 trillion, $438 billion more than it received in tax revenue.

So what did it spend all that money on?

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) has compiled a breakdown of how much of every $100 in tax revenue went to each of 16 categories of federal spending in 2016.

Social Security alone makes up nearly a quarter of expenditures, $23.61 out of $100. Health care, including Medicare, Medicaid, and Affordable Care Act subsidies, totals more than $26. Out of the remaining half, the largest chunk, close to $20, goes to defense, military spending and counterterrorism efforts.

Interest on the national debt is the fourth-biggest category, eating up more than $6 out of every $100 in tax dollars. Other categories each accounted for less than $3 per $100, including $2.39 for transportation, $1.89 for food stamp programs, and $1.48 for justice and law enforcement.

CRFB figures included both income and payroll taxes, with payroll tax funds for Social Security and Medicare totaling about 40 percent of spending.

The National Priorities Project conducted a similar analysis focused solely on income taxes. More than half of spending of income tax revenue went toward health care (29.1 percent) and the military (23.4 percent). Unemployment and labor programs cost 7.5 percent and veterans benefits accounted for another 6 percent.

Food and agriculture programs swallowed 4.5 percent, transportation took up 3.2 percent, and education added up to 2.8 percent. About 4 percent total went toward law enforcement, the justice system, commerce, and overhead costs of the government. Housing, environment and energy, international affairs, and science received about 2 percent or less each.

While they make up a massive share of federal spending, Social Security and government health insurance programs provide benefits to wide swaths of the population.

According to the CBPP, 40 million retired workers received Social Security benefits in December 2015, plus millions of eligible spouses and children. The program also covered 10.8 million disabled workers and their dependents.

Almost two-thirds of the 25 percent of the budget that went to health care was directed toward coverage of 55 million people under Medicare. Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program contributed to the care of 72 million low-income patients. Subsidies were provided to about 8 million people enrolled in insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act.

CBPP estimates the various government safety net programs that account for ten percent of the federal budget kept 38 million people out of poverty in 2014.

The costs of all of these programs add up, though, and some are predicted to balloon to even higher levels in the years and decades ahead. They already far outpace the amount of revenue the government is bringing in from taxes.

For a number of reasons, the federal debt has nearly doubled over the last eight years and it is projected to continue growing fairly rapidly in the next four years. Under current spending levels, the national debt would exceed $22.5 trillion in 2021.

The Heritage Foundation estimates that the share of the federal budget spent on interest on the debt will double to 12 percent over the next ten years without policy changes, potentially even totaling more than is spent on national defense at that time.

President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans are gearing up for what they hope will be the first large-scale reform of the tax code since the 1980s.

The White House has not detailed the president’s priorities for tax reform yet, but ideas floated by Trump and House Republicans on the campaign trail last year provide a blueprint for what they may want to do.

Trump has often spoken of the need to reduce the corporate tax rate. By drastically lowering the rate and eliminating loopholes that create an uneven playing field, he claims the U.S. can lure back businesses that moved overseas, spur new investment, and create more American jobs.

Republicans have also called for simplifying the tax code, eliminating some tax brackets, and lowering individual income tax rates for many people. They proposed substantially increasing the standard deduction, eliminating or capping other deductions and exemptions, and imposing new taxes on imports.

Expert analyses of these proposals have varied, but they have consistently found that the vast majority of the benefits would be showered upon the wealthiest taxpayers and, even after accounting for expected economic growth, they would likely add substantially to the national debt.

A Tax Policy Center analysis of then-candidate Trump’s tax proposal in October 2016 estimated that it would add $7 trillion to the debt over ten years. The average tax bill would be cut by 4.1 percent overall, but the top .1 percent of earners would get a 14 percent cut. Middle-income households would get a 1.8 percent boost in after-tax income, and the poorest households would see a .8 percent increase in after-tax income.

The Tax Foundation incorporated more positive predictions of economic growth due to the lower tax rates, but it still found Trump’s tax plan would reduce federal revenues by $2.6 to $3.9 trillion over ten years. Its analysis also found that the economic growth would result in at least a 5.4 percent boost in wages and the creation of up to 2.2 million more jobs.

Breaking down the House GOP’s “Better Way” tax reform plan, the Tax Policy Center estimated it would add at least $3.6 trillion to the debt over the first decade. Overall, it would boost after-tax incomes by an average of 2.5 percent. The average tax cut for the top .1 percent of earners would be 16.9 percent, and the poorest households would receive a .4 percent increase in after-tax income.

Looking at the same plan, the Tax Foundation found it would reduce federal revenues by $191 billion in the first decade, but it noted that some of that lost revenue would be a one-time effect and costs in future decades would be lower. The foundation’s models estimated that the plan would result in 9.1 percent higher GDP, 7.7 percent higher wages, and 1.7 million more new jobs over ten years.

Democrats have decried both plans as massive tax breaks for the rich and complained that they do not provide enough relief for the middle class.

Trump administration officials have backed off of rosy predictions that a tax reform bill will be passed this summer, but they remain confident that Congress will eventually approve a package that will satisfy American taxpayers.

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