White House unveils 'receipt' for taxes you pay

By Jennifer Liberto, senior writer


WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) -- On the eve of tax day, the White House unveiled a new online tool that estimates how much of an individual's taxes pay for things such as war, NASA and the interest on the deficit.

However, the online calculator obscures how much of an individual's tax dollars goes to a controversial expense that Republicans have been railing about -- bailing out government-owned mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- by lumping it with other expense such as commerce, transportation and government administration.

President Obama said in his State of the Union address that he wanted to give taxpayers an itemized receipt for how tax dollars are spent.

And the unveiling of the new online calculator couldn't be timelier, coming on the weekend when many are crunching their own tax bills.

"Just like you and I can get an itemized receipt for the purchases we make in the grocery store, the president believes we deserve transparency as to where our government's dollars are spent," said Aneesh Chopra, White House Chief Technology Officer.

But outside observers said the White House could have been even more transparent with its online receipt.

For example the online tax receipt seems to reduce billions of dollars pumped into Fannie and Freddie. The, White House says that's because the figure is being offset with the money banks already returned from the Troubled Asset Relief Program bailout. That's explained in a footnote that appears when users hover their mouse over the linked text.

The bank portion of TARP is turning a profit for the federal government, but there's still a net deficit of $19 billion due to losses on bailouts to the auto industry, insurer American International Group and Treasury's mortgage assistance program.

A White House official said that they lumped expenditures in the "additional" catagory, because the expenses didn't fit elsewhere --- not to obscure the cost of programs.

"The tool would have been too unwiledly to be useful to the public if each of the very small percentages were included," the administration official said.

Third Way health and fiscal policy analyst David Kendall called the White House calculator a "tremendous effort."

But his own online taxpayer receipt crafted for Third Way, a center-left think tank, offered a lot more details on how tax dollars are spent, breaking out such things as Amtrak, foster care and adoption assistance, and ocean oil drilling regulation and natural resource leases.

He also noted that the White House lumped a lot of categories together and didn't account for Social Security and transportation highway trust fund spending.

"The question is, if you take all that stuff out, are you really giving an accurate picture?" Kendall said. "It's a great idea but the execution is a little challenging." To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,804.80 26.65 0.15%
Nasdaq 4,765.38 16.98 0.36%
S&P 500 2,070.65 9.42 0.46%
Treasuries 2.18 -0.03 -1.27%
Data as of 8:16am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 17.62 0.09 0.51%
Apple Inc 111.78 -0.87 -0.77%
General Electric Co 25.62 0.48 1.91%
Intel Corp 36.37 -0.65 -1.76%
Microsoft Corp 47.66 0.14 0.29%
Data as of Dec 19

Sections

New York Magazine reporter Jessica Pressler, who has been caught up in controversy this past week, will not be moving on to a new job at Bloomberg News. More

Investors beware: These 5 global crises are likely to rattle the stock market and world economy. More

Forums in dark corners of the web sell the kinds of hacks that befell Sony. More

Unilever sued Hampton Creek over its egg-free mayonnaise spread Just Mayo. But the company behind Best Foods and Hellman's mayonnaise has now dropped the lawsuit. More

The income of the top 1% jumped significantly in 2012, far outpacing inflation. Not only did this group make a larger share of the country's income, their share of total taxes also jumped from 35% to 38%. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.