Teaching Your Children About Tax

Undstanding taxes may be daunting to adults, let alone children, however, it is essential. Leaving it unattended will yet raise another generation that will struggle with the payment of tax and appreciating why they need to. Growing up, many children choose ‘helping’ careers, such as becoming teachers, police officers, soldiers or doctors. Others, business persons.

These are all noble careers, but it is important for children to understand that these professionals are remunerated and supported by the government and the government gets the funds to pay these salaries and offer fiscal support from taxes. Ensuring that children understand this is also a precursor to establishing a strong voluntary tax compliance culture within any country and strengthening the social fabric.

It ensures the necessary law-abiding citizenry and quells the ever-present desire to be irresponsible in not contributing to the development of one’s country or the greater good. Like many other financial topics, it is essential to make the tax conversation engaging and exciting. When dealing with children, opt for straightforward explanations, at the same time involving them in actual financial activities.

Also get creative with hands-on experience. Consider the below tips as an attempt to strengthen Namibia’s future tax base: Grocery shopping and tax: Take your family along on a trip to the grocery store. As you shop, explain to them how taxes are included in the prices of the items they see on the shelves. Point out the tax amount listed on the receipt after checkout and discuss how these taxes contribute to funding public services such as schools, hospitals, social grants and roads.

Indileni Nanghonga

Earning allowance and tax: If your children receive an allowance or earn money from chores, use this as an opportunity to teach them about taxes on personal income, which is similar to teaching them about tithing and savings. Set up a small ‘tax rate’ to deduct from their earnings and have this contribute to the overall upkeep of the house. This is good for taking responsibility and demanding accountability on how such funds are spent. By incorporating these real-life experiences, your family can gain a practical understanding of how taxes impact their daily lives and the importance of contributing to society through taxation.

You could also set aside a day to simulate ‘tax day’ in your household. Provide your children with play money, representing their income and various expenses. Guide them through the process of completing a simplified tax return form, including reporting income, deducting expenses, and calculating taxes owed or refunds. You could even go a step further and create a ‘tax office’ to which they submit their completed forms for review and processing. Alternatively, encourage your children to express their understanding of taxes through art. Ask them to create drawings or paintings illustrating the concept of taxes or how taxes contribute to society. They could depict scenes like people paying taxes, public services funded by taxes, or the impact of taxes on their daily lives. Display their artwork around the house as a reminder of what they’ve learnt. Should your children love to read, give them books on tax history. If they are older, let them read about tax legislation.

In the ‘Young Sheldon’ television series, Sheldon Cooper files tax returns for his parents and sometimes they get a refund from the tax office.

Children feel important when they are included in real-life situations and you would be surprised at the ideas they sometimes come up with.

Children are generally inquisitive and this trait could help lawmakers when calling for comments on tax amendment bills.

They can only contribute to the tax debate if they understand tax. Reward learning: It is important to remember to praise children’s efforts and progress along the way and be consistent with rewarding their participation in learning about taxes to reinforce positive behaviour and motivation.

You could offer small prizes or treats, such as stickers, toys, books, or their favorite snacks for completing tax-related tasks or demonstrating an understanding of key concepts. Furthermore, you could plan a special outing or activity as a reward for their efforts in learning about taxes. If your child would like to be a business person in the future, teach him or her about taxation along with other important business principles.

This way they would be aware of tax-saving methods, fair tax planning, as well as tax compliance responsibilities. Taxes are important to society and we should all, including children, be aware of why they exist, how to calculate them and demand accountability when they are misused.

  • Indileni Nanghonga is a financial coach at La-Kunador. Lazarus Amukeshe is a tax professional. The views expressed here are their own.

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