Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Tax Man Cometh

Americans have long had strong opinions about taxes. Occasionally in our history there have been tax revolts, such as the Boston Tea Party, the Whiskey Rebellion, and more recently, California’s Proposition 13 in the late 1970s. Once a year – every April 15 – an elderly man in my neighborhood flies the Jolly Roger from his flag pole in protest. On the flip side, Oliver Wendell Holmes said that taxes are the price that we pay for civilization, and many concur. Taxes pay for our roads, our schools, social services, national security, and many other things. Due to hearing dissenting opinions about taxes, students often have many questions about them, and the role that taxes play in our society.
This week’s picks include resources on taxes from two organizations. Two lessons are from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, which offers free educational materials on a host of economic and personal finance topics. Users can search for materials by topic, grade level, subject, and educational standards. All lessons are reviewed and rated by teachers. The third lesson is by Thirteen Ed Online, the educational Web component of WNET, PBS’s leading station in New York. Thirteen Ed Online offers free standards-based lesson plans and classroom activities, online mentors, workshops, and online reviews of curriculum-based Web sites in addition to instructional television. All lessons are aligned to McREL and NCTM standards.

Income Taxes: Who Pays and How Much?
Subjects: Economics, Financial literacy, Civics, Taxes
Grade: 9-12

In this lesson, students learn about individual federal income taxes, and why we have them. The lesson addresses specific questions, such as: What is individual federal income tax? How and when is it paid? How is the individual income tax structured? What is a perfect tax structure? What are the different categories of taxes? What is the correlation between tax burden and income groups? What if the tax structure were changed? What effects would a different tax structure have on taxpayers? What effect would a different tax structure have on the government?

U.S. Income Inequality: It’s Not so Bad
Subjects: Economics, Financial literacy, Civics, Taxes
Grade: 9-12

Did you know that Americans pay lower income taxes than many other countries? In this lesson, students learn about the redistribution of wealth through taxation. They use various household scenarios to examine the ability-to-pay principle of taxation, and then analyze and compare two tax systems on the household scenario using the progressive tax system and a flat tax.

Taxes: Where Does Your Money Go?
Subjects: Economics, Financial literacy, Civics, Taxes
Grade: 9-12

This lesson presents information on why we have taxes, what taxes are used for, and how different income brackets pay different taxes. Students also learn about their individual responsibility to pay taxes, and that their gross salary does not always reflect the amount of money that they will actually take home. Students also examine ways to lower taxes through deductions, retirement accounts, and other activities.

~Joann's Picks - 4/10/10~

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