Back in Robin Hood’s day, tax-collecting sheriffs forced people to pay money to a king, who decided how those taxes were spent. These days our tax system works a bit differently. We get to vote for people who — we hope — will spend that money on things we care about, like schools and libraries, health care for elderly people, police, parks, sewers and so on. People still argue about how much tax we should each pay and how it gets distributed. Generally, how we spend our tax dollars reflect what we prioritize as a society. This week, Robin Hood will see how his ideas about taxes might be a little old fashioned. With the help of a rambling troubadour and a tax policy expert, we’ll see if Jed and Bridget can convince our new friend to change his tune.
And now … tips for grown-ups listening to “Million Bazillion” with kids
Take a minute to recap the episode and review the key points. Here are some questions to get the kids going:
- Why didn’t Robin Hood think taxes were fair?
- What do we pay taxes on today?
- Who decides how our tax dollars are spent?
- What kinds of things do tax dollars pay for?
- How would you answer Annabelle and Lousinda’s question, “Why do we have to pay tax if the government doesn’t have to pay for building roads and schools and stuff like that anymore?”
Renu Zaretsky at the Tax Policy Center explained that most people are more or less OK with paying taxes if they feel like the taxes are fair and if it’s clear how the money is spent. Here are a few resources for learning more about where your state and federal tax dollars are going. (Note: The content here is dense; kids might want an adult to help go through it.)
- “Where Do Our Federal Tax Dollars Go?” from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
- The Urban Institute has “fiscal briefs” for each state that lay out the basics of the budget, local politics and major debates. Find your state on the map here.
- Finally, here’s an article on a topic that might surprise you: “Americans Love Paying Taxes”
And now it’s time to hear from your kids! We’re still looking for their answers to a couple of not-so-random questions for upcoming “Million Bazillion” episodes:
- If you had the coolest job in the world, what would you be doing?
- If you could invent a product that would make being a kid easier, what would it be?
Have the kids think these over, and send us a voice memo here.
Now here’s a question for parents: Has the pandemic changed the way you’re teaching your kids about personal finance? We’d love to know more. Click here to tell us about it.
Chances are you still have more questions. That’s great! We’re always looking for more ideas to explore, and we’d love those ideas to come from you. Remember: Every episode of “Million Bazillion” is inspired by you! Click here to send us your question.
Money Talks answers
- In his time, the king forced people to pay taxes. And he kept the money for himself.
- Things we buy, our homes and property, and the money we earn.
- People we vote for — our government.
- Answers will vary.
- We keep paying taxes for roads and schools in order to maintain them and keep them running year after year.
The future of this podcast starts with you.
It’s official: kids love “Million Bazillion®!” From fun, creative lessons about trade to silly skits about the foundation of our economy, co-hosts Jed Kim and Bridget Bodnar, and the rest of the team are committed to making kids and their families smarter about all things money.
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This show is made possible in part by The Ranzetta Family Charitable Fund and Next Gen Personal Finance, supporting Marketplace’s work to make younger audiences smarter about the economy. Next Gen Personal Finance is a non-profit that believes all students benefit from having a financial education before they cross the stage at high school graduation.
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