Do you remember that class we had to take freshman year about how to do Google Searches and how to put sticky notes into books? Yeah, me neither.
But do you remember getting your first job sophomore or junior year and having absolutely no clue how to even start your tax withholding paperwork? Because I do remember that.
A majority of students get jobs before they are juniors in high school, and learning how to file for federal, state, and local income taxes is a vital part of being an employee at any establishment, and is a large part of becoming a more independent citizen of our country.
But, at MAHS, we don’t have classes about what taxes are or how to do them until Financial Literacy in junior year. By then, many students are in their second job, and have been working for at least two years already. So here’s what I propose.
We switch Information Literacy (because Computer Applications is actually a worthwhile class, prove me wrong) with a class to teach freshmen about the taxes they will probably end up paying while they are still in high school; to teach them about all of the papers that make some newly-working sixteen year olds wet their pants.
We should be taught how to fill out our W-4, our 1040, in what cases we might need a 1099, why the W-2 is important, so we don’t fill them out incorrectly and find ourselves in the middle of tax fraud or something worse.
For example, the first year I filed my federal and state income taxes and received a twenty dollar refund. I paid at least three hundred dollars in federal income tax over the year, and as a dependent and making under $12,400, I should have gotten all money I made from taxes back. So where did the other two hundred and eighty dollars of my federal tax return go?
If I had been required to take a class on how to pay my taxes in ninth grade, that probably wouldn’t have happened.
Then, in CSS our senior year, we can go over those forms again for those who didn’t get a job throughout their high school years, and talk about the taxes that we need to pay as adults, like estate taxes and property taxes.
In a poll, 80% of millenials were found to be afraid of filing taxes because they think they will do it incorrectly. If we taught students earlier how to do the basics of taxes, I’m assured that number would decrease.
And honestly, high school students deserve a class that they can really use later in life. Will I need to know when to use “and” or “or” in my Google Searches? Will I really need to know how to take the antiderivative of a function?
The answer to both of those questions is “Probably not.”
But you know what I will need to know? How to pay my taxes.