The High School Financial Planning Program® (HSFPP) will be retiring on July 31, 2021. Learn more about this decision.

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Teens and Income Taxes

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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 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.

Tools you can use in the classroom:

  • The online Payroll Adjustments and Take-Home Pay calculator demonstrates how payroll adjustments affect take-home pay. Have students compare multiple “what-if” scenarios to explore how contributions to a qualified plan, participation in a company-sponsored cafeteria plan, change in filing status or the number of allowances claimed will have a direct impact on take-home pay. Ask students specifically to assess whether contributions to a qualified plan translate into a direct dollar-for-dollar tradeoff on take-home pay.
  • The IRS tax withholding calculator helps individuals decide how to complete Form W-4.

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.

Students and their families can use the FAFSA IRS Data Retrieval Tool to directly transfer data from the IRS web site into the FAFSA form. See theIRS Offers Help to Students, Families to Get Tax Information for Student Financial Aid Applications article for more information.

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.