Why do we have taxes?

Why do we have taxes?

I can explain the different types of taxes people pay.

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Why do we have taxes?

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Students learn about income, sales, and property taxes and what that tax money is used for in the community.

Learning objective

Students will be able to explain the different types of taxes people pay and explain how they are used to provide services to the public.


Ask students to think about a time they visited a park, playground, or went to a city event. Share the experience of that time either in groups or as a class. Ask students to think about those locations they mentioned. How do they get built? How are they maintained? How much money do they cost? Tell students that the costs of a playground can range between 8,000 dollars and 50,000 dollars! Explain that the money to build public places comes from taxes that citizens in a community pay. Take the time now to complete the first two columns of the KWL chart, completing what they already know about taxes and what they want to know. There is a printable version of this KWL chart included.


Explain that taxes are money raised by the citizens to allow the government to run. It is important to know about taxes to be informed about where your money goes and what it pays for. Tax dollars are used to pay for public places. Ask students to drag to match the names of the public places to the images. Then students brainstorm about what else tax money may pay for. Explain that some of these things include fire stations, roads, and police officers. Ask students if they pay taxes. Have them explain their thinking. Then take the time to explain the three big types of taxes: Income, Sales, and Property tax. Ask students to match the definitions of the taxes to the name of the tax. Show the answers on the next slide.


Students respond to 10 multiple-choice and true/false questions.


Have students get out their KWL charts and have them fill in the L section of the chart. Ask students if their questions have been answered. To close the lesson, have students draw a picture to show their understanding of what tax money is used for, and then have them write a short paragraph explaining why people have to pay taxes.

Teaching tips

You can choose to ask your students if they know anything more about taxes (or have heard of the IRS) and if they know that April is important for filing taxes.

Instruction materials

The lesson includes an optional printable worksheet for the KWL chart used at the beginning and end of the lesson.

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