Apr 14, 2011
Press Release

“Americans deserve to know how their precious tax dollars are being spent.”

WASHINGTON—U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper (D-TN) joined Reps. Mike Quigley (D-IL), Todd Platts (R-PA), Aaron Schock (R-IL), and Dave Reichert (R-WA) to introduce legislation to provide each American with an itemized tax receipt. The Taxpayer Receipt Act (H.R. 1527) would provide a simple readout of where every individual taxpayer’s dollars are being spent.

“Every time you make a major purchase, you get a receipt; the same should be true of tax dollars,” said Congressman Cooper. “Americans deserves to know how their precious tax dollars are being spent. A Taxpayer Receipt just makes sense.”

The bill would provide a written receipt for those filing paper tax returns and an electronic receipt for those that e-file. The receipt would include a breakdown of each individual’s contributions to Social Security, defense spending, Medicare, and other federal programs, as well as the total amount of federal debt and how much the federal government has borrowed per citizen.

The bipartisan “Taxpayer Receipt Act” was introduced in the Senate last month by Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Scott Brown (R-MA). It is also “strongly supported” by the centrist think tanks Third Way and The Bipartisan Policy Center as well as by Americans for Prosperity. the National Taxpayer Advocate. and the National Taxpayers Union.

A sample of what the tax receipt would look like can be seen here.

Praise for Taxpayer Receipt

Bipartisan Policy Center
"Issuing 'taxpayer receipts' can provide American citizens with a broader understanding of federal spending, and help demonstrate that major entitlement programs – not discretionary spending, or foreign aid – are the major drivers of large national deficits. By clearly laying out the size and scope of our debt, maybe the 'taxpayer receipt' can help Americans realize that there are no simple solutions to our debt problem."

National Taxpayer Advocate
The taxpayer receipt "would help make taxpayers more aware of the connection between the taxes they pay and the benefits they receive" and would provide "better awareness of how our tax dollars are spent would increase the sense that 'we’re all in this together” (National Taxpayer Advocate Legislative Recommendations, p. 26).

Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget
"The Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform recommended making more information about the federal budget easily accessible to the public as a part of comprehensive reform of the budget process. The taxpayer receipt is a good step in that direction."

Americans for Prosperity
"On behalf of more than 1.7 million Americans for Prosperity activists in all 50 states, [the Americans for Prosperity] applaud your introduction of the Taxpayer Receipt Act of 2011, S. 437 and H.R. 1527. The American people are exercising a healthy new scrutiny of how the federal government spends their hard-earned tax dollars. Transparency in government spending is an important part of that scrutiny. Your legislation will offer taxpayers a broad profile of how their money is spent, allowing them a glimpse into spending that their government has never before provided."

National Taxpayers Union
The “Taxpayer Receipt Act” provides a welcome dose of transparency by offering taxpayers a glimpse into where their money is going, as well as clearly showing how much the federal government is borrowing in their name....This bill is full of positives for taxpayers. Chief among them is the inclusion of separate line items detailing the amount of debt and additional borrowing for every taxpayer in the United States. This allows the receipt to highlight our drastically unbalanced budget that obscures the true cost of our federal government from the taxpayer. In so doing, this bill uncovers the very real threat that today’s deficits pose to future generations.