Tax data visualisation

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I somehow missed this but Google had a contest in February to find the best data visualisation to represent tax data in an interesting way. The finalists are posted and the results are very impressive. The winner is Anil Kandangath who looks at where US tax dollars went in 2009. It is very intuitive and very useful. It compares very favourably to the White House’s own ‘tax receipt’ launched this month (although this entry does it the way you want; how many burgers was that worth).

On the other ones, this one will charm a libertarian’s heart (you can calculate what you are doing for the government down to the minute), this one was less ambitious but on the same theme with some virtues in simplicity, this one does something more useful in that it compares actual spending to your ‘preferred’ allocation (it reminded me of this Kansas innovation), this one allows you to walk the data with a Kinect, and this one was one of my favourites (interactively adjusting the time series on various data).

Now why isn’t some Australian data-minded politician thinking about engaging the community to visualise more government data?

3 Responses to "Tax data visualisation"
  1. I agree that it’s awesome and that we’d benefit from having it set up for Australia, but while we’re dreaming of what would be fantastic, we should also consider that for America it’d be much more informative if users were able to specify their state and (ideally) their county to get a fuller idea of the whole.

  2. These tools are cute, but all of them suffer from a fatal flaw. They falsely assume that the tax paid is only the personal income tax. This assumption is plain wrong.

    In order to calculate how much you pay in taxes you have to take into account:

    Value added taxes,

    Corporate taxes on profits that increase the price of goods sold to you (these taxes would be available as discounts in a competitive market),

    Import duties on raw materials or other items that contribute to increase the price of goods bought by individuals,

    Social security payments, including the “Employer’s Share” which is simply money that is not available to pay the employee.

    It’s just amazing how convoluted the tax system is made just so that individuals end up believing they’ve paid only 20 something percent of their incomes as tax. The true number is closer to 50 or 60%, depending on the country. 

  3. “Now why isn’t some Australian data-minded politician thinking about engaging the community to visualise more government data?”

    Well, there is data.gov.au, and it has attracted a little bit of interest from the community. More government datasets would be nice, though. See http://www.suburbantrends.com.au/ for an example of what’s been done with some of the publicly available data from Australian government agencies.
     

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