Video Resource: Where Do Our Tax Dollars Go?

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Apr 14, 2015
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Activity, Current Events, Video Resource, Taxes

Still working through the set of 20 videos titled We The Economy.  I got a question a few months back from a teacher looking for a resource to help her students understand what taxes pay for.  So, I was happy to see this video “Your Tax Dollars At Work (with companion guide).”

What do I like about the video?

  • It clarifies the budget debate by showing that most federal spending falls into three categories.  See if your students can guess what they are.
  • It interviews a few of the beneficiaries of federal programs which captures the larger point of the struggle between head and. heart when it comes to budget priorities.
  • It has some excellent ideas on how to use the video as a starting point for a classroom debate about spending priorities (see Companion Guide above).

There is also a great resource (you can find further down this page) that allows students to see how federal spending has changed over time (1792 – 2014).  The pie chart below reflects spending in 1795.

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 12.48.48 PM

Here are some great follow-up questions to ask your students about this resource:

  1. What were the top three items the government spent tax dollars on in 1865? 1945?
  2. Why do you think the government was spending in those areas? (Hint: Think about what events were happening at that time.)
  3. How do the amounts spent in 1865 and 1945 compare to the amounts spent in 2014?
  4. What top three items do you think the government will spend tax dollars on in ten years? How much per item? Why?

Want this resource and questions in slide format to use in class? Click here!

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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