Google contest winner shows where our taxes go

As many Americans are scrambling to file their taxes today, a Google contest that shows where your tax dollars go has announced a winner.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read


With the deadline to pay our taxes ticking away, many of us wonder just how and where Uncle Sam spends our hard-earned dough. The winner of a recent Google contest reveals the answer.

In February, Google launched a contest designed to shed some light into the U.S. government's often perplexing spending habits. Dubbed the Data Viz challenge, the contest asked developers to create online applications that could show us visually where our income tax dollars are spent.

After receiving more than 40 entries, the Google jury has crowned its $5,000 Grand Prize winner. Created by developer Anil Kandangath, "Where Did My Tax Dollars Go?" is "information-rich but elegantly designed," said Google in its blog post. And Kandangath's creation does make it easy for any of us to see how much money goes into each area of the federal budget.

Launching "Where Did My Tax Dollars Go?" offers you a simple interface where a winking George Washington asks you to choose your income and filing status (single, married, etc.) from a couple of drop-down menus. After plugging in that information, you're taken to a screen that shows how much you paid in federal taxes, how much was eaten up by Social Security and Medicare taxes, and what your tax rate turned out to be.

A pie chart also displays a slice for each federal category, so you can see how much was given to national defense, the environment, health care, and other areas. Clicking on a particular piece of the pie drills down even further. So clicking on defense tells you how much was spent on the Army, how much on the Navy, how much on the Air Force, and more.

The $3,000 runner-up prize went to "Every Day is Tax Day," an online clock that shows you not just how much money you spent in taxes but how many hours and minutes you worked to earn that money. Though they may not take the sting out of paying taxes, these online apps can at least answer some of the questions that befuddle most hard-working taxpayers, especially at this time of year.