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
- 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:
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!
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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