3 Lessons for Teaching Taxes

April 15th, Tax Day. You may remember that Tax Day fell two days later in 2018, but this year Tax Day is back to April 15th. This annual, often stressful ritual for adults can also be a prime time learning opportunity for our students during Financial Literacy Month. Seize this year’s upcoming Tax Day as a well-timed opening to introduce and teach the basics of taxes to elementary, middle, and high school students.

Why teach taxes? Even our youngest students have a natural interest to explore future jobs and careers. Most adults remember the surprise of opening that very first paycheck and realizing exactly how much money is withheld to support Social Security, Medicare, and income taxes. And while some of our high schoolers may already have lived this somewhat startling experience, it is important for all students to understand how paying taxes will affect their bottom line in the future, eventually impacting how much money they have to spend and save. In addition, an understanding of why we pay these taxes and how that money is used is an important lesson in where civic responsibility meets financial literacy.

Grades 4-6

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Vault – Understanding Money | Lesson 2: Income and Careers

Overview: Students learn about how people acquire income, build careers, and responsibly pay taxes to the government (30 minutes). Within the lesson, students play a quiz show game covering the basics of taxes and earning money

Student Learning Objective(s): Examine the high‐level role of taxes, how they are collected, and how they are used.


Grades 6-8

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FutureSmart | Lesson 3

Overview: Ways to Pay students meet Trevor, a college student who needs help saving for an end-of-summer trip while managing his day-to-day expenses. Students must help him select a job, review his paycheck and credit card statement, and help him make decisions about when to utilize different payment types.

Student Learning Objective(s): Identify common withheld state and federal taxes by examining a paycheck.


Grades 9-12

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EVERFI – Financial Literacy for High School | Lesson 7: Insurance and Taxes

Overview: Students explore common insurance types and terms, evaluate types of insurance, and examine the role of insurance in mitigating risk and saving money. Students also learn about types of taxes and how they work, examine how taxes affect a typical paystub, and fill out basic tax forms like the 1040EZ.

Student Learning Objective(s): Examine common taxes and tax forms; analyze components of a pay stub to answer questions about take-home pay, taxation and other common deductions; and practice completing end-of-year tax forms.