Teach tax in schools, say tax groups

Basic tax education should be taught in schools, two leading tax groups have told the Department for Education (DfE) as part of a review into the National Curriculum.

Both the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) and the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) have argued that the education of taxes should be re-included in the citizenship part of the national curriculum.

The LITRG said the promotion of 'a basic grounding in tax and finance' for students at an early stage of their education would reap real benefits in the future.

According to the CIOT, the DfE should concentrate on three main areas of education:

  • tax and the political/economic system - the reasons for taxation, why it is levied, and its relationship to the political system 
  • tax and civic responsibility - taxation and law
  • tax and mathematics - basic numeracy to work out tax rates and allowances.

In a press release, the CIOT said: "Though it may not elicit the wide-eyed excitement of a Bunsen burner experiment in the chemistry lab or provide the physical rigour of a football lesson on the school field, the argument for taxation in education is nonetheless topical, compelling and relevant."

CIOT president, Stephen Coleclough, commented: "Most school children will one day become employees when they will need to be able to understand a PAYE coding notice or payslip and to be able to identify when it is wrong. Many will go into business where tax is a key cost and administrative burden that cannot be ignored. An understanding of taxation - how it works, why it is necessary and what the obligations of the taxpayer are - is an essential part of financial education. Without it we do not believe that citizens will have the skills and knowledge to manage their money well and make sound financial decisions."

"The effect of PAYE and NIC on students, the differences between tax-free and regular savings accounts, VAT & tax credits all help to underscore the value that should be attached to the teaching of tax."