There can’t be many days that are less popular than April 15. But I want to remind you of a fact that might ease the pain: The income taxes you’re paying will save lives in poor countries.
If your family makes the U.S. median household income of roughly $51,000, together you will buy someone in a poor country about seven months’ worth of HIV treatment. Or provide a lifesaving vaccine for 48 children. Or buy eight bednets that will protect people from mosquitoes that cause malaria. (I got these numbers from this calculator created by the ONE Campaign, which is worth checking out. It assumes your income taxes are spent in the same proportion as the U.S. federal budget.)
These numbers might make you wonder if a large portion of your income taxes goes to foreign aid. After all, seven months of AIDS treatment can’t be cheap. You wouldn’t be alone in wondering this: Polls show that Americans tend to think nearly a quarter of the budget goes to aid.
It turns out that foreign aid is just 1 percent of the federal budget, or about $30 billion a year. Another way to think about it is that just 1 percent of your income taxes goes to foreign aid.
Compare that to other items in the budget. Defense for example is 17 percent, or more than $1,500 out of the median household’s income tax bill.
I believe that if more people knew what a small share of the budget goes to these programs, and how effective these programs are at saving lives, they’d want to do even more.
April 15 will never be anyone’s idea of a fun day, but I hope it helps to remember how much good American aid is doing around the world.