Paying Taxes

This book is an excellent primer on taxes for young people. The many topics covered include why people pay taxes, kinds of taxes, how taxes are spent, and what makes a good tax.

Interested in using this resource in your classroom? Check out the posters that go along with this book: Consumers, Goods & Services (especially government services).

Comprehension Questions

What is a tax?

A tax is a required payment people make to the government.

What three levels of government are supported by taxes?

Local, state, and federal.

What is an income tax?

A tax paid on the money (wages and salaries) people earn.

What is a property tax?

A tax paid on property and buildings that people own.

What are examples of taxes people pay?

The most significant taxes are probably on property, income, and purchases (sales tax). There are also many other taxes that we don’t notice as much, such as taxes on phone use and electricity, gasoline, license plates, fishing licenses, airline taxes, road and bridge tolls, etc.

Why do people pay taxes? Must they?

Yes! Taxes are compulsory; you must pay them. Taxes help fund the activities of government, such as roads, police and fire protection, the armed services, public education and transportation, parks, retirement payments (Social Security), etc.

In 1773, what was the famous example of the American colonists rebelling against paying taxes to England?

The Boston Tea Party.

In the 1700’s, the book says the Frenchmen were taxed for their wigs! Can you explain why?

Wigs were probably worn by wealthier Frenchmen, and the French government thought they could get more money by taxing them!

What is the tax you pay when you purchase something at a store?

Sales tax

What is an excise tax?

This is a tax paid on a particular good or service, sometimes a luxury item. An example is the tax you pay on each gallon of gasoline.

What is a tariff?

A tax paid on products imported into a country.

What other taxes are subtracted from one’s income?

The main ones are the unemployment tax and social security tax.

Where do local governments get most of their taxes?

From property taxes.

What services do state taxes support?

State roads, universities, public education, and expenses necessary to operate the state government.

What services are supported by federal taxes?

Armed services, space program, national parks, federal courts, salaries of federal employees, and many, many more things, including disaster relief.

What are some questions one can ask to help determine whether a tax is a good or bad tax?

Does the tax serve a common good? Is it a fair tax? Will people be able to afford to pay the tax? Is the tax easy to collect? Does the tax help the economy?

Author: Sarah DeCapua

Reading Level: 5.9

Grade Level: 3 - 5

Accelerated Reader Level/Points: .5

Lexile Measure: 850

Publisher: Children's Press