Nobody likes paying taxes. From time to time you've probably heard adults grumbling about paying them. But what would happen if people did not pay their taxes?
Roads wouldn't be built. Schools couldn't operate. The Army wouldn't have any weapons to defend itself if the country were attacked.
Taxes are the sums of money raised from individual citizens and companies to help pay for all those services, such as roads and schools, that a community needs.
Taxes are fees or charges handed out by some governing authority. This authority could be the United States government, also called the federal government, or it could be the state government or the local town or city in which you live.
The federal government couldn't function unless people paid taxes. The most important federal tax and the one that brings in the most money for the US government is the income tax. That is the fee or charge that is worked out according to how much money a person earns from his or her job. It also includes all other money he may get, such as dividends (payments) from investments.
Not everybody pays taxes. A worker only starts to pay taxes when his income goes above a certain figure. With income tax, the more money you earn, the more tax you have to pay. That's only fair.
The government keeps a check on how much people are making or collecting by sending them an income tax return. This is a statement that every taxpayer has to fill out and return to the federal government. The details that the taxpayer fills out on the form apply to the money received during the previous year.
When taxpayers send in their return, they enclose what is known as a W2 form. A W2 form tells a taxpayer how much money he earned last year and how much was sent to federal and state governments.
Income-tax returns have to be completed every year by April 15. This means that many people are working right now on their income tax returns.
Raising money through taxes goes back a long time. Taxes were even collected in biblical times.
Taxes can be so important they can trigger revolutions. This is what happened with the French Revolution. It began in 1789 -- almost 200 years ago -- and lasted until 1795. The peasants of France thought their king and the nobles were getting richer and richer while they were getting poorer and poorer through harsh taxes.
Taxes had a lot to do with the start of the American Revolution, which lasted from 1775 until 1783. One of the taxes that made the American colonists very angry with the British crown was the stamp tax. Another very unpopular tax was the tea tax. To show their anger with it, a party of citizens disguised as Indians boarded some tea ships in the Boston harbor and threw the tea overboard.
This incident on Dec. 16, 1773, is known as the Boston Tea Party. It is regarded as one of the great events of history because it helped pave the way for the American Revolution the next year.