Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's deputy web editor.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
It's typical for states and localities to publicize how much of the budget is spent on what. But Houston may be one of the few to give taxpayers a detailed breakdown of where their personal taxes are going, according to the Houston Chronicle. With the city's new "My Tax Dollars at Work" tool, a Houston homeowner can type in the appraised value of their home, check yes or no to claiming the residential homestead exemption and instantly see how much of their property taxes go toward each department. For example, a person with an appraised house value of $ 217,047 (the average price of a home in Houston) without the homestead exemption pays $830.48 for public safety services, $24.60 to keep the library running, and $49.71 for a year's worth of trash and recycling pickup. California has a similar online tool that offers a less detailed breakdown for income taxes; and the federal government has what they call the "Federal Taxpayer Receipt," which the Obama administration unveiled earlier this year.