Taxing matters: by the numbers

As April 17 (yes, 17 this year) approaches, a statistical look at some little-known facts about US taxes.

Do you know: The average IRS refund? Which European nation has lower taxes than the US? If the tax burden was less in the 1950s or the '80s?

This year, the typical American family will fork over roughly a seventh of its income to Uncle Sam. That tax bite is lower than it was in the 1980s and '90s – and it's certainly lower than in most European nations. Where do those dollars go? The biggest share (a third) goes to cover Social Security and Medicare payments, while a fifth goes to military spending (including the Iraq and Afghanistan wars).

Incidentally, April 15 falls on a Sunday this year so the Internal Revenue Service has pushed back the filing deadline to Tuesday, April 17. Why not Monday the 16th? That's Emancipation Day, a legal holiday in the District of Columbia.

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