Monday, April 15, 2013

5 Resources to Help Students Learn About Income Taxes

Today is the busiest day of the year for the U.S. Post Office. Why? Because tax returns have to be post marked by today. If you're looking for some resources for teaching about taxes, take a look at the items below.

This morning's episode of CNN Student News has a short segment on income taxes. And on the topic of the economics, today's episode also explains Bitcoins.

For high school students, college students, and adults CNN's Explain It To Me video about the "Buffett Rule" explains why sometimes the super rich don't pay as high a percentage of their income in taxes as the rest of us.

From time to time we all wonder where our tax dollars go. Now thanks to the White House's Federal Tax Payer Receipt we can find out. Visitors to the site can enter the data from their actual tax returns, enter data that they estimate, or choose to use one of the "common scenarios" to see a breakdown of what their tax dollars will be spent on.

Another place to see how tax revenue is distributed is What We Pay For. What We Pay For uses publicly available tax data to show you how your tax money is appropriated. On the left side of the screen you will see the total revenue and appropriations for the entire United States. On the right side of the screen you can enter your filing status and pre-tax earnings for the year to see the approximate amount you will pay toward US budget items. You can enter your pre-tax earnings as an annual figure, monthly figure, weekly, daily, or hourly wage.

The IRS website, Understanding Taxes, is a good source of lesson plans and individual learning materials about taxes and budgets. In the teacher section of the site you will find lesson plans like this one (opens as pdf) designed to teach students about services for which tax revenue is used. This lesson plan is based on the 2011 tax code, it has not been updated to reflect the 2012 tax code.