Tyrannical tax season fails to sets students up for success


Paul Kaminski '24

MONEY MONEY MONEY The stress of tax season isn’t isolated to parents; the lack of teaching for young tax-payers yields stress and anxiety for all.

Paul Kaminski '24, Copy Editor

“In this world,” Benjamin Franklin once said, “nothing can be certain, except death and taxes.” Every April 15, each working citizen in the US has to pay literal homage to the government. There is no way for ordinary citizens to legally skirt this requirement of sacrificing a good chunk of their yearly earnings to the whims of the government. Naturally, the question arises of how much one needs to pay and to whom to make the check. The government’s answer: you figure it out.

For the first time in their life, many South students will be filing taxes this year. Almost all of them will hand this responsibility over to their parents—not one of them knows how to pay taxes. This secret art hasn’t ever been taught at South or the vast majority of schools nationwide, which makes a nation of uninformed citizens. There are three classes of people in this regard: those who figure it out on their own, those who go to accountants or friends/family members who know how to perform this mysterious task and those who go to jail for tax fraud. There are two solutions to this problem: the government stands up or teaches students how to file taxes.

Throughout my entire life, I haven’t seen the government—on a local or national scale—create lasting tax system changes. While there have been occasional tax cuts, they haven’t changed the system, merely lessen the amount you have to pay to it. For a meaningful change in the system, we need the government to be transparent. If the government—which already knows the amount of taxes each person has to pay—just tells people how much to pay, it expedites the process and would get rid of the need for laborious calculations and accountants. Would the government realistically do this? No, because then things get too clear and straightforward. The government is never clear and simple; they need an inherent amount of inefficiency so there’s profitability politicians can exploit. Also, it would take a lot of effort to completely rehash the tax system for any politician to ever deeply care about—tax reform isn’t a winning issue compared to others.
While government effectiveness may be out of reach, we aren’t entirely helpless. South can help remedy this problem by introducing a class or mandatory unit in math or economics classes on how to do taxes, which would greatly benefit graduating seniors. A quick study of determining how much you owe, including tax deductions, could even be a part of a larger personal finance unit or class teaching students fiscal responsibility. South itself needs to make the change because the Lord knows the government won’t.