Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Few Resources for Learning About Taxes

Today is the deadline to file and pay your income taxes here in the United States. This is a good time to share some resources for helping students understand the history and purpose of income taxes. And good luck to everyone who is scrambling to file their tax returns today. (This is the first time in years that I'm not scrambling to file on time).

To explain the origins of income taxes in the United States, CBS News hosted author Kenneth Davis. Davis is the author of the popular "Don't Know Much" series of history books.

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.

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.

Finally, for a retro lesson on taxes take a look at the School House Rock Tax Man Music Video.