Tax season is upon us and for the fourth year in a row the New York City Independent Budget Office (IBO) is providing its Tax Receipt service that allows taxpayers to find out how the government spends their tax dollars.
Taxpayers can visit IBO's website at www.ibo.nyc.ny.us, enter in the amount of taxes they paid for 1999, and receive an itemized printout of how much of their money went for specific services, such as prisons, welfare, Medicare, education, or national defense. Receipts are available for taxes paid to New York City, New York State and the federal government.
"Income taxes are probably the largest expense for most people, but they have no idea how their tax dollars are spent," said Ronnie Lowenstein, IBO Deputy Director and Chief Economist. "IBO's Tax Receipt service provides taxpayers a breakdown-in dollars and cents-of where their money goes."
The report highlights NYC's unique tax diversity. While other large cities tend to rely primarily on just two taxes-most often property and sales taxes-NYC relies heavily on personal income and business income taxes in addition to property and sales taxes. Yet even if these income taxes were not included, NYC's tax effort would exceed the other cities' average.
For instance, a typical New York City resident might pay $1,563 in city income taxes, of which $158 supports Police, $160 supports elementary and secondary education, and $29 goes to libraries, museums, parks and gardens.
IBO's Tax Receipt is the basis for the federal Taxpayer-Right-to-Know-Act, which was originally introduced by Senator Charles E. Schumer (NY) and passed last year. The Act requires the IRS to establish a similar service on its web site.
IBO is an independent city agency whose mission is to provide non-partisan budgetary, economic, and policy analysis for the residents of New York City and their elected officials, and to increase New Yorkers' understanding of and participation in the budget process.