Why don't high schools teach students how to prepare a basic income tax return? Or at least, why don't they inform students about income taxes?
I see other answers here saying that they do teach their kids explicitly how to do taxes. I don’t.Why?Most kids don’t find it that interesting, and don’t retain much of what we teach.This is often the answer to “why don’t schools teach us stuff we can use?” Many well intentioned teachers try to instill real-world skills into their students, but students don’t usually find it engaging, and most forget it by the time it comes to use it.It’s because stuff doesn’t feel relevant… until it’s relevant. Once you realize you need the information, you suddenly become motivated, and you learn it fairly quickly (as long as you possess the prerequisite skills, more on this later.)It’s not that we shouldn’t try to teach relevant skills, but to actually add educational value, it needs to be skills that students are interested in picking up.Doing your taxes ISN’T THAT DAMN HARD.Seriously. It’s not.Time consuming? Yes. Frustrating, it can be. Annoying the other 364 days where you had to keep careful records? Sure.But actually doing taxes is not that bad unless you are a small business owner.You get your (sometimes free) tax software and answer all the questions and fill in appropriate boxes.It’s so easy that…Parents could teach their kids in an afternoon.We’re supposed to be teaching your kids the stuff that takes lots of time, or that you can’t.Teach your kids to cook.Teach your kids to fold laundry.Teach your kids to do their taxes.They’ll learn it better from you anyway. We don’t have time for that.Yes, I understand that not everyone comes from a good home, but we don’t have time to teach all life skills in the classroom.Teaching kids how to do taxes isn’t financial literacy.Oh, I definitely teach exponential growth, and the danger of high interest loans and credit cards. I try to instill numeracy. We talk a little about budgeting, saving, and investing.But teaching kids how to fill out a form is not preparing them to handle their finances.Tax law changes constantly. Anything we teach will be obsolete in 5 years.We teach students enough material that will be obsolete. No need to add to the list.And finally…We give students all the prerequisite skills to do their taxes.Math classes are constantly:asking students to take percentagestransferring numbers from here to thereoptimization problems (how can I get the biggest return)forcing students to follow specific directions for complicated processesMath is abstract. We don’t cover all possible applications. But we try to prepare students for anything by exposing students to lots of potential applications.We’ve got a lot to teach. We also provide specific financial math classes if students want to take them.Please just let me teach Algebra.