This might be the quintessential making lemonade out of lemons moment — turning tax time into teaching time. Actually, it’s a perfect segue to help our kids learn about mathematics and government as well as learn a lesson in organization, discipline, and responsibility.
The trick is breaking it down into lessons that a child can truly grasp and absorb, without falling asleep! Here a few ideas.
Explain to your child that there are a series of equations to do in order to arrive at one answer for taxes. Show them how to do the equations and how to double and triple check their work.
It’s vital for our kids to know what the point is of doing taxes. You can tell them about what happens to the money we pay in taxes and explain what it pays for and how it impacts our lives. You can also take a quick tax tour, by driving around and pointing out buildings and agencies maintained thanks to our tax dollars.
This might be a great opportunity to discuss the history of taxation in the U.S. Most school-age children will have heard of the Boston Tea Party. Go in depth and show them stories online about what led to the Boston Tea Party and the fallout from that historical event. You can also jump off into other explanations of taxation in the U.S. and how it affects our lives today.
While you’re on the topic of dollars and cents, you can introduce your kids to the family budget. With your tax info handy, you can show them how much your family earns and what you spend it on. This is a great chance to show them spreadsheets and graphs that will illustrate your spending and give them an idea of how to manage their own money. You can also use this time to discuss family priorities and decide if you should alter them.
Take a minute to show your kids how many documents, files, and receipts you need each year to file your taxes. Make sure they realize that this is not something you choose to do, but something that you have to do. Explain to them the amount of planning, preparation, and organization it takes to compile this information throughout the year, maintain it, and use it to satisfy a government requirement.
Help your children understand that everyone has to pay taxes to fund our way of life and the freedoms we enjoy. Make sure they see that while no one likes to pay taxes, we do like to have the services of the police and fire departments when we need them, and that’s one of the things our taxes pay for. We also like to have the court system and government services to make our lives easier. In other words, we have to make choices and sacrifices to get the things we want and taxes are one of those sacrifices.
Have you gotten your children involved in the tax process? What have they learned from the experience?
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