Adult taxpayers have widely diverse thoughts and emotions regarding filing their income taxes. Without additional knowledge, students tend to carry these preconceived notions into their own adult lives, impacting whether or not they file income taxes on time, procrastinate, or even attempt to avoid the process altogether.
As an educator, tax time provides a teachable moment to inform teens and influence their future actions to be based more on knowledge rather than emotions.
Resources to Teach Taxes to Teens
Taxes are addressed in HSFPP Lesson 3-3: Pay and Taxes. In this lesson, students examine factors that impact personal tax liability and take-home pay. They will also learn about the choices available to them so that they can make the most of their money.
This, however, is only the tip of the tax iceberg. HSFPP does not cover deeper tax issues because the IRS offers "Understanding Taxes," an interactive tax education program for middle school, high school and community college educators.
The program offers 38 lesson plans, activities, tutorials and simulations. Lessons are broken into those that cover tax terms and forms (the Hows of Taxes) and the theory and history behind the American tax system (the Whys of Taxes).
Taxes and the FAFSA
For seniors looking towards post-secondary education, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) stands as a gatekeeper between them and many federal, state, and institutional aid programs. It's important for students and their families to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1 to ensure that they do not miss out on any available aid. Deadlines for state and institutional aid varies, and some funds are limited and run out before deadlines.
Once a family files their income taxes, they can use the FAFSA IRS Data Retrieval Tool to directly transfer data from the IRS web site into the FAFSA form.
Free Tax Filing Assistance
If you are working with low- or moderate-income families who need assistance filing their taxes, refer them to a local IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site.
VITA sites are run by IRS-certified volunteers to provide free tax preparation assistance for low-and moderate-income individuals and families, persons with disabilities, the elderly and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. Taxpayers can use the online VITA Locator Tool or call 800-906-9887 to find VITA sites in their community.