American Holidays: Tax Day

Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 11629

Holidays evoke scenes of merriment and celebration. Usually. There's one that's not so exciting but is necessary to keep the country alive. Learn about Tax Day and teach others with a homemade poster!

categories

Economics, Social Studies

subject
Social Studies
learning style
Visual
personality style
Beaver
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio:

Most holidays are celebrations — joyous times of year when family and friends gather. But, there is one holiday Americans begrudgingly mark on their calendars each year …

Tax Day is not a federally-recognized holiday, and no businesses or schools give time off for the date, but it is a day most Americans mark on their calendars.

If you haven't yet explored the first three Related Lessons in this American Holidays series, you will find them in the right-hand sidebar.

Despite being a day without parties or a fancy dinner, Tax Day is an important date to remember, because it is the deadline for Americans to file their tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

To start learning about Tax Day, read Amendment XVI: Income Tax (National Constitution Center). After reading the sixteenth amendment, summarize what it says to your teacher or parent.

The first U.S. income tax was introduced in 1861 to help finance the Civil War. Many felt taxing personal income was unconstitutional and, therefore, the tax was only levied when funds were needed, until 1913. In 1913, the government ratified the sixteenth amendment to the Constitution, which allows congress to levy and collect taxes as needed. Since then, the income tax has been an American way of life.


When each American receives a paycheck from his or her employer, money is automatically taken from his or her earnings and given to the state and federal governments. This money is referred to as income tax. Each year, Americans must file a tax return with the IRS that summarizes their earnings for the previous year. Doing so allows them to claim deductions for certain expenses, such as owning a home, having children, or paying for a college education. The IRS reviews the tax returns to ensure each American paid his or her fair share in taxes. Sometimes, they find certain people still owe money in taxes, so those people must pay the balance that still remains to the state and federal governments. Other times, they find people overpaid, or deductions were claimed that allow them to get back some of the money they paid during the year. These people are issued a refund check by the federal government.


Each year, Americans have between January 1 and Tax Day to file their tax returns. Those who do not file their tax returns by the specified date can incur penalties and fines. The date on which Tax Day falls has changed throughout the years. When the sixteenth amendment was ratified in 1913, March 1 was set as Tax Day. As the years passed, it has slowly been pushed back to a later date. As of 2018, Tax Day falls on or around April 15. If April 15 falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or a holiday, Tax Day is pushed back to the following Monday. In certain years, the IRS has even pushed back Tax Day due to extreme weather conditions. For example, in 2007, Tax Day was moved back due to a massive blizzard that had pelted the east coast. Another, more recent, example was the 2016 Tax Day. Due to the Washington, D.C., Emancipation Day holiday being observed on April 15 instead of April 16, 2016, Tax Day was on the following Monday, April 18.


  • After reading about Tax Day, what do you think?
  • Is it a date that should be feared?
  • Is it an annoying holiday or is it just like any other day?

Share your responses with your teacher or parent.

Those who are organized and file their tax returns early will tell you Tax Day is just another day. On the other hand, those who procrastinate and wait until the last minute to file their taxes find the holiday to be a nuisance.

Move on to the Got It? section to continue learning about Tax Day and develop your own opinions about the date.

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