Penny Poll Report – Tax Day, 2024

By Dave Meserve, World BEYOND War, April 17, 2024

On Saturday, April 13, two days before Tax Day, we conducted the annual Penny Poll at the Arcata Farmers Market. It is usually in front of the U.S. Post Office, but in this electronic age, people rarely mail their tax returns any more. About 165 people voted by distributing ten pennies among ten containers labeled to represent major government programs. By choosing where they want their federal tax dollars to go, they also inform the community about their priorities.

The graph of the Penny Poll votes by Humboldt County taxpayers looks like an inverted image of the federal government priorities.  The federal budget allocates over 55% of our discretionary budget tax dollars to the military, and a total of 27% to Education, Health, Environment, Housing and Social Services.  This year, people chose to give only 4% to the military and 76% of their taxes to those five programs.

The Penny Poll is carried out every year on tax day, in communities across the country. While results vary slightly from city to city, the Poll consistently shows broad consensus for a federal budget that addresses people’s basic needs, and the environment, rather than pouring funds into war and the military industrial complex.

Penny Poll Results  –  4/13/24

Budget Category   # of Pennies       Percent                Current Federal Budget

Education                                 344                  21%                             5%

Health                                       281                  17%                             5%

Environment                          269                  16%                             4%

Housing                                   213                  13%                             5%

Social Services                       149                  9.0%                            9%

Transportation                      109                  7%                               2%

Agriculture                             105                  6%                               2%

Military                                    65                    4%                               61%

Justice                                      61                    4%                               5%

International Affairs             56                    3%                               2%

Totals                                     1652                100%                           100%

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