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Report: Average US Taxpayer Paid Over $5,000 Toward Militarism in 2023

Lockheed Martin, which is profiting directly from Israel’s genocide, received $249 from the average taxpayer last year.

People walk among the rubble of destroyed buildings after an Israeli airstrike in Maghazi refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, on April 4, 2024.

As the U.S. funded a genocide in Gaza and military destabilization abroad last year, the average taxpayer paid over $5,000 in income taxes to fund militarism and its supporting projects, a new analysis by the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies finds.

The analysis released Tuesday found that programs bolstering or supporting the Pentagon, border militarization and deportation, prison and policing, and veterans’ programs took $5,109 of the average American’s income taxes in 2023.

Of this, $2,974 of the average taxpayers’ money went to the Pentagon alone. And because defense contractors receive more than half of the Pentagon budget — fueling skyrocketing profits, CEO pays and stock buyback budgets in recent years — they were able to pilfer $1,748 from the average taxpayer in just one year. Lockheed Martin, which is profiting directly from Israel’s genocide, received $249 from the average taxpayer, more than the typical weekly food expenses for an American household, the report found.

“It’s outrageous that the average taxpayer is giving the equivalent of a month’s rent to Pentagon contractors,” said National Priorities Project Program Director Lindsay Koshgarian. “These big corporations are already not paying their fair share in taxes. Instead, ordinary people are subsidizing those corporations’ profits and multi-million dollar CEO pay packages.”

The report found that the average taxpayer shelled out more for militarism than Medicare, public education, food stamps and other programs like renewable energy projects combined, the report found. Medicare and Medicaid — which provide health care coverage for tens of millions of people in the U.S. — saw $4,308 in the average taxpayer’s contribution in 2023, while education saw only $346, food stamps saw $516, the child tax credit saw $110 and renewable energy and energy efficiency programs only got $10.84.

By contrast, the average taxpayer paid more to fund Israel’s military than they did energy efficiency programs in 2023, costing $14.58 on average — more than double the federal minimum wage. Even Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which has contracts with NASA and the Pentagon, received more than such climate programs did, pocketing $12 of the average Americans’ taxes.

As affordability has plummeted and Americans struggle to afford basics like shelter, food, utilities and emergencies, hundreds of billions of dollars that lawmakers have dedicated to U.S. militarism went toward increasing surveillance and police repression of Americans. It also went toward fueling economic, environmental and political instability across the world, helping to create one of the most volatile moments for the Middle East in modern times.

This includes funding and support for Israel’s genocide of Gaza, in which over 33,000 Palestinians have been killed so far, including over 13,000 children, with over a million people on the brink of or already experiencing famine due to Israel’s starvation campaign.

Taxpayers have been helping to fund the genocide despite the majority of Americans disapproving of Israel’s military actions and the U.S.’s support of Israeli forces, as well as the use of taxpayer money for Israel’s military incursions likely being against U.S. law, experts have said.

“The average taxpayer contributed $112 to foreign militaries in 2023, including $14 for the Israeli military. Those tax dollars have directly supported the Israeli military’s destruction of Gaza,” Koshgarian said in a statement to Truthout. “There are clear actions the administration can take to make sure that our tax dollars stop supporting genocidal actions in Gaza. Those include immediately stopping the flow of U.S. weapons to Israel, and reinstating aid to UNRWA.”

Despite declining affordability for the average American, however, the U.S. continues to increase its already sky-high budget for the Pentagon and militarization year over year. President Joe Biden has proposed $1.1 trillion in funding for militarism programs for the 2025 fiscal year, including $850 billion for the Pentagon.

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