Feb. 12, 2013 at 3:17 PM ET
If you’re among the millions of Americans who will be filing your federal income taxes in the coming weeks, chances are you’ve given some thought to how you’d like those hard-earned dollars to be spent.
A new survey finds that overall, Americans would like Uncle Sam to spend their tax dollars on making health care affordable, creating jobs and improving education. Defense spending and environmental protection were at the lower end of the list of priorities.
The online survey of a representative sample of 1,000 Americans, conducted on behalf of brokerage TD Ameritrade in mid-November, asked respondents what three areas they would choose to support with their tax dollars. The survey has a 3 percentage point margin of error.
The survey found that 38 percent would like their tax dollars to go toward making health care more affordable, while 36 percent think the government should invest in job creation. About 28 percent said a top priority should be that the government improve the quality of education.
The least popular of the choices offered were protecting the environment, investing in job training and defense spending. Each of those garnered less than 18 percent of the vote.
In reality, your tax dollars are far more likely to go toward defense than education. Last year, the White House released a handy calculator so Americans could see where their tax dollars were spent.
According to the administration’s calculations, about 25 percent of tax dollars are going to national defense. Another nearly 24 percent is going toward health care, in the form of programs such as health insurance for children and Medicare.
While education may be a top priority for those surveyed, it is not currently a top budget item. A little under 4 percent of last year’s tax dollars went to education, according to the White House calculations.