Make Your Kids Fill Out A Paper Tax Return

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I had dinner with one of my best friends tonight and he mentioned that he reads the blog but understands very little of what I write. We had many neurosci classes together and if ever there was a smart guy, it would be him. I realize that many more people would read this blog if I wrote less technical articles, and when I’ve mentioned that before some readers have mentioned that the only reason they read this blog is because of the nitty gritty details I sometimes get into. I’ll continue to write posts that require some background knowledge, but I’m going to make an effort to write some less technical articles as well (and this would be one of them).

Thank You Mr. McNeely

Mr. McNeely was my highschool economics teacher and over the course of one week our class had a project to complete a paper tax return. We were given a very simple test subject with only a T4 and some background information, but we had to completely fill out the paper tax returns, including looking up on the tax tables the amounts of tax owing to both federal and provincial governments, look up tax credits, etc. At the end of the week, we took up the return line by line as a class. It actually took a full class period to go over the return (even though it was a very simple case), since we asked questions and were explained some subtleties along the way.

I was recounting this experience to my friend and he mentioned that it was a fantastic idea and should be mandated for all students in elementary school and/or high-school. Couldn’t agree more! I remember being fascinated by the exercise – probably the first clue that working in finance was in my future, and certainly made me feel more comfortable with money matters as a whole. The magic was just in doing it, as what had seemed like an insurmountable task when first presented felt almost trivial by the time we completed it.

Preet Banerjee
Preet Banerjee an independent consultant to the financial services industry and a personal finance commentator. You can learn more about Preet at his personal website and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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Showing 5 comments
  • Mike

    Similar experience when I was in grade 9, when a “consumer ed” course was mandatory… little did I realize at the time how much an impact it would have on my understanding of a market economy and affect my routine purchase decisions. My wife, who grew up in a different province, has lamented that she never had such fundamentals explained to her while at school. Reviewing the “basics” will always be timely… appreciate your knowledge sharing and insight Preet.

  • Millionaireby45

    I would recommend that kids should fill out their own tax returns as well. Parents can always double check before submitting. This will highlight where all of their money goes and gives a great overall picture.

  • CanadianInvestor

    Before the days of tax programs I used to build a spreadsheet that would do the sums properly because I was hopeless at doing the arithmetic correctly. Having to lay out the plus/minus and interconnection logic for my return really gave me a feel for how the system of deductions and credits work.

  • Patrick

    Don’t get too much less technical! I’ve learned a ton from your blog.

    Maybe you need two blogs?

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