Taxes. They’re an unavoidable part of adult life that we all have to deal with, yet most schools don’t teach us the basics of how to file them. If you’ve ever wondered why such an essential life skill isn’t part of the standard curriculum, you’re not alone.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: there are a few main reasons schools don’t teach taxes, including how complex the tax code is, a lack of room in the curriculum, and taxes not being considered an essential skill for students to learn.
Keep reading to learn more details on why taxes are missing from most education systems.
The Complexity of Taxes
One of the main reasons why schools don’t teach taxes is due to the complexity of the tax code. The tax code is a set of laws and regulations that determine how individuals and businesses should file their taxes and pay their obligations to the government.
It is a constantly evolving and intricate system that can be difficult for even adults to understand, let alone young students.
The Ever-Changing Tax Code
The tax code is constantly changing to reflect new legislation, regulations, and court rulings. It can be challenging for schools to keep their curriculum up-to-date with the latest tax laws. By the time a textbook is published, there may already be significant changes to the tax code.
This makes it difficult for educators to provide accurate and current information to students.
Hard to Keep Curriculum Current
Another reason why schools don’t teach taxes is the challenge of keeping the curriculum current. As mentioned earlier, the tax code is always evolving, and it requires educators to constantly update their knowledge and teaching materials.
This can be a daunting task for schools with limited resources and time constraints. It may simply be more practical for schools to focus on other subjects that have more standardized and stable curriculum requirements.
Require Trained Educators
Teaching taxes also requires educators who are knowledgeable and trained in tax laws. This may not be a skill set that all teachers possess. It would require additional training and professional development for educators to effectively teach taxes.
Schools may not have the resources or funding to provide this specialized training to their staff.
One of the main reasons why schools don’t teach taxes is due to crowded curriculums. With an increasing emphasis on standardized testing and core subjects, there is limited time available for additional topics such as taxes.
Focus on Standardized Testing
Schools today are under immense pressure to ensure that students perform well on standardized tests. These tests often measure a student’s proficiency in subjects such as math and English. As a result, schools prioritize these subjects to ensure that students are well-prepared for these assessments.
Unfortunately, topics like taxes are left out as they are not directly assessed on these tests.
According to a study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, schools spend an average of 20 hours per year on standardized testing preparation. This leaves little room for additional subjects like taxes.
Emphasis on Core Subjects
Another reason why taxes are not taught in schools is the emphasis on core subjects. Core subjects such as math, science, and English are considered essential for a well-rounded education. These subjects provide the foundation for future academic and career success.
As a result, schools allocate more time and resources towards teaching these core subjects, leaving less time for topics like taxes.
According to the National Association of State Boards of Education, 70% of U.S. high schools require three or more years of math, while only 5% of high schools require a personal finance course, which could cover topics like taxes.
Taxes Lose Out
Taxes are often seen as a complex and specialized topic that is best left to be learned outside of school. Many argue that it is the responsibility of parents or individuals to educate themselves about taxes and personal finance.
However, this approach can lead to a lack of financial literacy among students. According to a survey by the Council for Economic Education, only 17 states require high school students to take a personal finance course before graduation.
This means that the majority of students graduate without any formal education on topics such as taxes.
While it may be challenging to fit taxes into an already crowded curriculum, there are efforts being made to increase financial literacy in schools. Organizations such as Junior Achievement and the National Endowment for Financial Education offer resources and programs to help educate students about personal finance, including taxes.
It is important to recognize the significance of taxes in our daily lives and the impact they have on our finances. By including taxes in the curriculum, schools can help prepare students for the real world and empower them to make informed financial decisions.
Taxes Not Considered an Essential Skill
One of the reasons why schools don’t teach taxes is because it is considered a debatable necessity. Some argue that taxes are an essential life skill that everyone should learn, while others argue that it is not necessary for everyone to have an in-depth understanding of taxes.
The debate stems from the fact that not all individuals will be responsible for managing their own taxes in the future. Some may hire professionals or use software to handle their tax filings, making it less essential to learn about taxes in school.
Considered Outside School’s Role
Another reason why taxes are not taught in schools is that it is considered outside the school’s role. The primary purpose of schools is to provide academic education and equip students with foundational knowledge and skills in subjects such as math, science, and language arts.
Taxes, on the other hand, are seen as a practical and specialized area of knowledge that is better suited for real-life experiences or specific vocational training.
Moreover, the curriculum in schools is already packed with various subjects, and adding taxes as a required course could be challenging due to time constraints and competing priorities. Schools have limited resources and must prioritize subjects that are deemed essential for a well-rounded education.
Left to Parents to Teach
The responsibility of teaching children about taxes is often left to parents or guardians. Many parents believe that it is their duty to provide financial education to their children, including teaching them about taxes.
They may take the opportunity to explain the concept of taxes, how they are calculated, and why they are necessary.
There are also resources available for parents to help teach their children about taxes, such as online articles, videos, and interactive tools. These resources can be used to supplement the information provided by schools and ensure that children have a basic understanding of taxes.
Other Contributing Factors
School Funding Limitations
One of the reasons why schools don’t teach taxes is due to funding limitations. Many schools struggle to provide basic educational resources, and incorporating a comprehensive tax curriculum can be costly.
Budget constraints often force schools to prioritize subjects that are considered essential for standardized testing, leaving little room for topics like taxes.
Tax Preparation Industry Lobbying
The tax preparation industry has a significant influence on the education system when it comes to teaching taxes. Tax preparation companies often have a vested interest in keeping the process of filing taxes complex and confusing.
By lobbying against the inclusion of tax education in schools, they ensure a steady demand for their services. This lobbying effort creates a barrier to implementing tax education in the curriculum.
Perception That Taxes Are Boring
Another reason why schools may not teach taxes is the perception that taxes are dull and uninteresting. Students may not be enthusiastic about learning complex financial concepts and regulations. As a result, schools may prioritize more engaging subjects to keep students motivated and interested in their education.
However, it is essential to debunk this perception and emphasize the importance of understanding taxes for financial literacy and responsible citizenship.
While these factors contribute to the absence of tax education in many schools, it is crucial to recognize the significance of teaching taxes. Understanding taxes is essential for financial literacy and equips individuals with the necessary skills to navigate the complex financial landscape.
Arguments for Adding Taxes to Curriculums
Teaches Real Life Skills
One of the primary arguments for including taxes in school curriculums is that it teaches students real-life skills. Understanding how taxes work is essential for every individual as they enter adulthood and start earning money.
By introducing taxes in schools, students can gain practical knowledge on topics such as income tax, sales tax, and property tax. Learning about taxes at a young age prepares students to effectively manage their finances and navigate the complexities of the tax system.
According to a study conducted by Investopedia, only 14% of Americans are considered to be tax literate. By incorporating taxes into the curriculum, this statistic can be improved, ensuring that students are better equipped to handle their personal finances and make informed decisions about their taxes in the future.
Promotes Financial Literacy
Including taxes in school curriculums also promotes financial literacy among students. Understanding taxes goes hand in hand with understanding personal finance. By learning about taxes, students can develop a deeper understanding of how money works, the importance of budgeting, and the implications of their financial decisions.
According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, students who receive financial education have higher savings rates and are less likely to be delinquent on credit card payments. Incorporating taxes into the curriculum can contribute to these positive financial behaviors, setting students up for a more secure financial future.
Levels the Playing Field
Adding taxes to curriculums can help level the playing field for students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Understanding taxes empowers students to navigate the financial landscape more effectively, regardless of their background or financial resources.
Studies have shown that individuals from lower-income households tend to have less knowledge about taxes and financial matters. By teaching taxes in schools, students from all backgrounds have equal access to this crucial knowledge.
This can help bridge the gap between socioeconomic disparities and provide all students with the tools they need to succeed in managing their personal finances.
In summary, the omission of taxes from most school curriculums boils down to their complexity, crowded lesson plans, and debate over whether they’re truly an essential skill for students. While valid counterpoints exist on both sides, there are still compelling arguments for why giving students some tax education could benefit them.
Understanding the basics of taxation is a vital real-world skill that can promote financial literacy and empower individuals. With some curriculum adjustments, schools could do more to prepare students for the tax realities they’ll inevitably face as adults.