Wednesday, April 20, 2011

WotW: Where'd my taxes go?

By now, all of you living in the US should have filed and paid your taxes (or, gotten a nice refund :). You even had an extra few days this year! If you haven't yet... umm... run and hide?

Now that you've paid your taxes... where does the money go? We can probably all agree, regardless of political affiliation, that the hands of our government may not be the most responsible hands to put billions of dollars of tax revenue into... but at least they (theoretically) track it and tell you where it goes... right? There is no "black hole of debt" category though ;)

The information about where federal tax money goes is available at, but the figures are presented in rather bland (although colorful) charts. So, Google teamed up with a company called Eyebeam to host the DataViz Challenge, inviting programmers and artists to come up with creative ways to show the information contained in the charts from WhatWePayFor.

As expected, the entries are awesome. And MUCH more visually interesting than a chart. My 18-month old just begged to watch this over and over again. And danced to the music. Google for the win!

(if you're in a feed reader or it bugs you that the movie is cut off since I couldn't resize it, click here to hop over to YouTube and watch the video.)

You can see and interact with the winning apps (and all the other entries) here. The judges came up with some very creative honorable mention awards. :)

The winner of the $5K grand prize was Anil Kandangath who created an app called Where Did My Tax Dollars Go? -- an interactive pie chart showing you actual tax numbers based on your filing status.
Based on our approximate salary, $109 went to education...
(which I think is pretty pitiful, personally)
and $25 of the $109 went to Federal Pell Grants.
That's a cause I'm okay with. :)

The runner-up was Fred Chasen and his app Every Day is Tax Day. Based on your income or approximate hourly wage, the clock shows you how many hours you spend today working just to pay taxes, as well as how many minutes you spend working for the taxes for each department or office.

Other finalists include
  • TaxMapper, an interactive charted slide show
  • Budget Climb, which shows the budget and your contribution as a cityscape that you can climb and explore using Kinect technology
  • Visualize Your Taxes, which tells the "story" of how well your individual tax priorities line up with the actual federal budget
  • What Do You Work For?, a yearly calendar break-down of how many days out of each year you work to provide for the different government entities, and how many to provide for yourself
You can view all the contest entries here. Open and explore each by clicking the Launch Project button.

So, now that you can SEE where your taxes went... do you feel better about the whole thing? :)

Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of one squirmy boy and the wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She is the proud author of this weekly Wednesdays on the Web (WotW) segment here on Housewife Eclectic and spends the other days of the week blogging about crafts and whatever else comes up at just Lu.

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