FCNL: 42 Percent of Your Tax Dollars Buys More War

[ FCNL is the Friends (Quaker) Committee on National Legislation. –BL ]

FCNL Email | 11 March 2005

Tax day is April 15. Did you know that about 42% of our income taxes this year will go for military purposes?

This figure is computed based on federal funds outlays in fiscal year 2004 (FY04) of $1.7 trillion. The federal funds budget includes spending for all discretionary programs (for which Congress appropriates funds each year) and for all mandatory programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, Earned Income Tax Credit, and other needs-based programs (which are paid for out of general revenues). The federal funds budget does not include spending by trust funds such as Social Security and Medicare, as these are paid for through separate, dedicated payroll taxes–not income taxes.

We estimate that in total the U.S. spent $715 billion in FY04 for past, present, and future military purposes. This includes funding for the Defense Department, Energy Department nuclear weapons programs, military-related activities of other agencies, international military financing and training, expenses paid for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, mandatory spending for military retirement and health care, veterans programs ($59 billion), and the estimated portion of interest paid on the national debt which can be attributed to past wars and military spending ($157 billion).

Why do other organizations report that a higher percentage goes for military purposes? Most likely, their calculation includes only “discretionary” spending, which is roughly half of the federal funds budget that FCNL analyzes in its calculation. Their pie leaves out lots of “mandatory” spending for programs like interest on the debt, Medicaid, and food stamps for which our income taxes are also used. They also leave out mandatory spending for military retirement and health care and the portion of interest on the debt that can be attributed to past wars and military spending. In short, they are showing us only about half of what we pay for with our income taxes.

For a detailed breakdown of how FCNL calculates this figure go to http://www.fcnl.org/issues/item.php?item_id=1253&issue_id=19

Click here to view the FCNL Minute on Conscientious Objection to War http://www.fcnl.org/legpolcy/priority_109th.htm#war

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