While paying taxes is hardly popular, most people accept that this obligation is a part of the American experience. Taxes pay for our government, schools, and our military, and allow our democracy to continue. Unfortunately, the process of figuring out one’s tax obligation can be confusing, even for people who have been filing their taxes for years. Imagine then, how difficult it must be for new and young taxpayers to prepare their first tax returns.
Preparing Your Children
As parents, we have a duty to prepare our children for the real world. Part of this is teaching them the value of money from an early age, and ultimately, financial self-sufficiency. This is why I recommend teaching your children about taxes early: because you do not want them to get caught flat-footed when it comes time for them to prepare their own tax return.
- Teach your children about what taxes are and where they go. From a young age, explain how taxes pay for the police, firefighters, roads, schools, and libraries.
- Practice with fake money or later, salaries from part-time jobs. Demonstrate to your children that part of what they make will always go toward taxes. This will be critical when you teach them about budgeting their money.
- Show your teenager what a tax return form looks like. I imagine that to most teenagers, Form 1040 will look scary and indecipherable. However, while there may be an initial anxiety, the idea is to explain the basic concepts to them and allow them to become comfortable. Further, reassure them that you will be there for guidance when the time comes.
- Explain tax deadlines. School teaches children the importance of turning in homework and assignments in on time, and that the consequence is bad grades. Those same concepts apply to preparing and filing tax returns in a timely manner, with the consequences of interest and penalties.
- Before they leave for college, consider having your teenager help you with your tax return. Quiz them on each step of the process. This will probably be completely tedious to a teenager, who would rather be watching ridiculous YouTube videos. However, this will help prepare them for the real world.
- When your children are no longer your dependents and have to file their first returns, offer to work together. This does not mean to prepare their tax return for them, but to answer questions and review their work.
Contact a Tax Attorney
If you are having IRS tax problems, or need tax advice, you need a tax attorney. Do not hesitate to call me. I have practiced tax law for over twenty years, have a Master of Law Degree (LLM) in Taxation, and am licensed to practice in the United States Tax Court. I can help guide you through IRS tax issues of any complexity. Contact The Law Offices of Robert S. Thomas at 847-392-5893 to schedule an appointment or visit our website today.