Six Creative Ways Of visualising Your Tax Dollars

With tax day just ahead of us, it’s normal to feel frustrated as we start sending hefty chunks of our hard-earned dough back to the government. One is inclined to wonder: “How exactly are my taxes being spent?” Unfortunately for us, the answer is extremely complicated.

Eyebeam seeks break this question down in the most understandable and beautiful way possible with the 2011 Data Viz Challenge, rallying designers and developers to use imaginative, cutting-edge visualizations to illustrate exactly how our Federal tax budget is spent. 

Partnering up with Google (with data provided by WhatWePayFor.com), Eyebeam has assembled a panel of 11 judges to sort through the 41 total entries, selecting 6 finalists and picking a final winner of the $5,000 grand prize on Tax Day, April 18.

The competition saw a huge variety of entries working with many different models, from videos to interactive graphics. Here’s a look at the 6 Data Viz Challenge finalists:

visualise Your Taxes
Boasting a fully interactive visualisation with user exploration and a story-telling angle, this entry breaks down what your tax dollars were spent on throughout the years. Select your spending priorities, enter the amount you’re filing for this year, and let the visualizer show you how you aligned with the Federal budget from 1984 to the present.

Taxes

Photo: Greg Voakes

View the entry

Created by: Mark Won, Salil Jain, Carl Ng of Online Schools

Budget Climb
A very clever project which harnesses the power of the Xbox 360’s Kinect, integrating physical movement to explore budget data. This project does not require a Kinect to use — so if you’re sweating over your taxes, you don’t need to sweat from the exercise you’ll get from budget climbing.

Taxes

Photo: Greg Voakes

View the entry

Created by: Zach Schwartz, Fred Truman, Frankie Cheung of NYU

What Do You Work For?
An interesting narrative that answers the question, “What if you paid your federal taxes with your entire income starting January first?”

Taxes

Photo: Greg Voakes

View the entry

Created by: Jeffrey Baumes

Tax Mapper
An interactive slideshow with a scaling chart of government spending, framing the information around which politicians were in office at that time.

Taxes

Photo: Greg Voakes

View the entry

Created by: Hermann Zschiegner, John Halloran of TWO-N

Every Day is Tax Day
This visualisation is presented as a clock, based on the premise that all taxes mean is that we’re really working for the government each day. See how much time per day you spend working for the various government departments.

Taxes

Photo: Greg Voakes

View the entry

Created by: Fred Chasen

Where Do My Tax Dollars Go?
This is a visualisation that put emphasis on displaying how taxes are actually computed. This simplifies how tax rates work, and on top of that, explains how your personal taxes are contributed to the federal government.

Taxes

Photo: Greg Voakes

View the entry

Created by: Anil Kandangath

Winner of the Data Viz Challenge will be announced on tax day, April 18, 2011 – stay tuned for updates.

Follow Greg for DataViz updates on Twitter!

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