Why we need to talk to our kids about tax

Post in collaboration with Kids Business Communications

Have you ever talked to your kids about taxation? Apart from complaining about having to pay it?

It’s not really a subject you’d think to bring up with your kids, is it? Particularly, if you have kids with special needs, whom may never participate in the workforce.

But, there are a few reasons we need to have this conversation, even with our special needs kiddos.

Why we need to talk to our kids about tax - www.myhometruths.com

Why we need to talk to our kids about tax

  • We have a responsibility as parents to guide our kids in society. Taxation is one of those subjects that we all seem to complain about yet never really talk about. As a youngster, I was conditioned to see tax as a bad thing, something to resent and to be avoided, as most of us are. That was because I never had a real conversation with my parents about it. I never understood WHY we paid tax.
  • We need to explain why paying tax is important. Without taxation revenue, the government can’t afford to provide the infrastructure, health care, education and financial support we all need. It’s that simple. Paying tax is a contribution to society. We should be happy to pay it and proud of doing our bit to help the community, rather than being proud of doing everything possible to avoid it.
  • We need to be role models for our kids and help them be good citizens. As parents, we should be open with our kids about how much tax we contribute and how we do it. Again, I remember not understanding my early pay slips and being so disappointed when the gross salary wasn’t the amount that ended up in my bank account (less tax). We need to be explicit and talk to our kids about the tax system and how it works.
  • We can’t rely on others to have this conversation. While schools do play a part in teaching our kids about tax, we, as parents, have a crucial role as their primary teachers through life. We shape our kids’ values, expectations and behaviours. It’s up to us to prepare our kids for the future and to help them see the value in paying tax and contributing to society.

But what about our special needs kids?

I believe it’s just as vital to have this conversation with our special needs kids, even if you don’t expect them to move into employment just yet, if at all. They may not actively contribute to the tax system but they may benefit from it, through the receipt of government benefits. Tax is sometimes deducted from these payments too so it’s still useful to have the conversation.

As your kids move past 16, they may need to re-apply for benefits in their own right. They might also need to supply a Tax File Number (TFN) of their own. Again, this is a moment where you can talk to them about why they need this number.

For kids on the spectrum who need explicit instruction and support, it’s important we have these conversations early and often. I don’t want my kids becoming confused and overwhelmed trying to interpret pay slips, payment summaries and tax returns without specific guidance. It makes sense to have these conversations now, before they enter the tax system, so they are fully prepared.

How can we have this conversation with them?

There are many ways you can introduce the topic of tax to your kids. You can do so by showing them your pay slips and demonstrating how you contribute. You can look around the community and share how tax funds the upkeep of parks, roads, schools and hospitals. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. Just starting the conversation will help your kids grow up with a more positive view of tax.

You could also just go the direct route, as I did, and ask your kids what they know about tax. I must say, I was proud that Matilda knew a little bit about tax even before I shared my thoughts with her:

You may have noticed I also asked her about superannuation (super), a concept she hadn’t heard of. Super, like tax, is something we often resent paying. It’s hard to see the value in putting aside some of our salary now to support our lives once we retire. But it’s another important topic we need to share with our kids, so they grow up with less resentment and more commitment to making super contributions.

In the end, tax and super is all about making our community and our lives better, now and in the future. It’s important our kids grow up understanding and accepting that – don’t you agree?

If you’re still struggling with introducing tax and super to your kids, you should check out the ATO’s Tax Super and You website. It’s full of educational and interactive resources designed to introduce kids to tax and to guide you in sharing your own experiences with them.

You might just learn something new yourself – I know I did!

Why we need to talk to our kids about tax - www.myhometruths.com

Have you ever talked about taxation with your kids?

Do you plan on having the conversation anytime soon?

Disclaimer: I received monetary compensation from Kids Business Communications for this post, however all views, stories and opinions shared here are my own (except for Matilda’s tip that I start thinking about super, now I’m getting older – she’s so not my favourite child right now!)

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15 Responses

  1. And at any age, parents’ attitudes about taxes will affect how kids think about them. So parents should try to avoid the big grumbling around tax time. Taxes aren’t bad. They may have administration problems, but a country can’t function without them.
    Lisa @ NatureImmerse recently posted..Best Electric Knife Sharpener Reviews 2017

    • Kirsty says:

      Most definitely Lisa. Once I understood what taxes were for, I had no problem paying what I owed. I’d rather have a functional government and supportive society, than the alternative!

  2. Financial literacy seems to be on the agenda more these days and I think you are wise in preparing your children too. Thank you for linking up for #lifethisweek 24/52. Next week: First Concert.
    Denyse Whelan Blogs recently posted..Public Holidays. #LifeThisWeek 24/52. 2017.79.

    • Kirsty says:

      I still remember going to the GP for the first time as an “adult” and not knowing I was supposed to go to medicare afterwards to claim my rebate. There are so many little things we need to do, like paying tax, claiming medicare, etc, that we aren’t explicitly taught. I think I had a handful of receipts to claim when mum finally let me in on that piece of information! Financial literacy is so important in everyday life – I hope my kids are a little more informed than I was!

  3. Vanessa says:

    I think tax is viewed too negatively in our society. I was in a money mindset course the other year when I was electrocuted slightly; the same day as that happened I had spend hours doing my tax. It was nice to feel like I had paid my dues and my emergency care only cost me the cab home upon discharge.
    Vanessa recently posted..My Tonsillectomy

    • Kirsty says:

      Exactly! It’s always irked me that people think so little of paying their fair share. How else do they think the govt can afford to pay for our healthcare or fund community initiatives? I can only hope my kids are a little more understanding!

  4. I think it’s so important for kids to know about this sort of stuff. I don’t think I knew anything about tax or super until I started working. I have to admit, I there is still the odd thing around tax time that bamboozles me…. and I wish it didn’t! I don’t mind paying it though, I’ve always been of the opinion that we all in this together.

  5. Yes, it’s a conversation that needs to be had! We did, quite spontaneously, as my husband took a handful of lollies away from the kids as ‘tax’! The joke quickly turned into a conversation about what it is and the importance of it. 🙂

  6. Great tips honey and yes, it’s an important conversation to have.

  7. Maxabella says:

    This is something I need to get on to. I was raised without knowing much about money, etc and I am in danger of doing the same to my kids! Thanks for the excellent advice in this post, Kirsty.

    • Kirsty says:

      I have to say I was in the same boat but my kids need explicit instruction. With my eldest now a teenager, it’s timely to start talking about this now so they are more informed in a few years when they can go out and get jobs (I’m so NOT ready for that!)

  8. Kate says:

    As a kid I always thought tax was a bad thing… I never understood that it is about contributing to the nation, I ever saw that side of it. Hopefully my kids won’t grow up with such a warped view!

    • Kirsty says:

      I was the same – why is something that helps society seen as such a bad thing? I hope I’m setting my kids on the right path now as well.

  9. Definitely something worth discussing- I fear I fall among the parents who mostly whinge about tax, lol!

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