The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Americans paid more income tax in 2014 than ever before. Here’s where it went.

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Guys, it's Tax Day -- the day each year when we gather with family and friends to celebrate handing over a quarter of our earnings to the government so that it can build hospitals and such. It's a happy day, filled with happy feelings.

(An aside at the top: It was only this year that I realized the sheer, grim coincidence of Abraham Lincoln having both created the income tax and perishing from his fatal wounds on April 15, 1865. Other have almost certainly noted this in the past, but: Ouch.)

So how much money do Americans actually turn over to the government? We pulled data from the Office of Management and Budget to find out. We've included OMB's 2015 estimates on the charts below.

Americans paid $1.4 trillion in income tax in 2014.

That's expected to climb this year. It is, as you'd expect, an all-time high.

You can see very clearly on this chart the effects of the recent recessions. Fewer people working means less money coming in.

The year 2014 was a high, of course, because the value of the dollar shifts over time and the workforce increases with population growth. (And so too grows the government.) If we convert past receipts to 2014 dollars it's ... still a high.

But less dramatically so.

Americans paid about $4,400 per person in taxes last year.

The amount that Americans have paid over time has increased, even adjusted for inflation. This is total income tax receipts divided by total population -- so it includes little tiny babies who don't pay anything and super-rich weirdos who pay much more.

The amount of America's income spent on income taxes is fairly stable.

If you compare how much is paid in taxes to national income totals from the Department of Commerce, it's actually fairly consistent over time, usually in the 8 to 10 percent range. (This is only income taxes, mind you.)

Income taxes provide a lot more than corporate taxes.

But, then, there are a lot more people than businesses. (Also: Businesses are people, my friend.)

The "Other" category here includes other things you pay, like Social Security taxes and excise taxes.

Most of the money goes to "human resources" programs.

America spends a lot of money on defense, of course, though not as much as a percentage of the budget as we did during World War II (for good reason). Much of that spending is on Medicare, Social Security, and "income security" -- which includes welfare programs and disability.

You can also see the vein in there labeled "interest." That's interest on the debt the government owes. Which brings us to...

Even with what we pay, we're still usually in the red.

This won't surprise anyone.

So to summarize: Tax Day is great, and the system works. See you next year!