Topic 9: Understanding Taxes

Core Content Resources

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Presentation: Saving at Tax Time (pptx) (Julie Wang) Understand the basics of income taxes, presentation with instructor notes. (paycheck withholdings, deductions vs credits, federal tax policy)

Handout: Saving at Tax Time (PDF) (CFPB) Ways to save throughout the tax process, and take advantage of opportunities (free tax preparation, fees, child tax credit, earned income tax credit (EITC), direct deposit, refund, savings bond, VITA).

CASH Oregon Tax Resources (Website) (CASH Oregon) Multiple resources for tax preparation and education, including EITC Credit Calculator, handouts of resources in English, and information about ITINs, and how to find a free tax site in Oregon.

Economic Literacy Resources

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8 things to know about Oregon’s tax system (Article) (Oregon Center for Public Policy)

US taxation trends in the post war era (video) (Kahn Academy) Why have incomes for the bottom 90% fallen behind economic growth? One reason might be our tax policies.

A Tax Day Reminder: Our Tax Code Adds Fuel to Economic and Racial Inequality (webpage) (Prosperity Now) As it stands currently, the federal tax code—and that of many states—does not meet its own obligations towards all tax filers. Instead, it gives the wealthy an abundance of funds while providing little, if any, support to low- and moderate-income households.

These graphs Federal Tax Rates for Top and Medium Income Earners  and Individual and Corporate Taxes display US tax policy shifts in the last 50 years from the wealthy and corporations to individuals. Click here for a diagram showing the change in tax rates over time, which is elaborated here in:  The Rich Really Do Pay Lower Taxes Than You. (NYTimes) (op-ed).

Immigrants as Economic Contributors: Immigrant Tax Contributions and Spending Power ( (article) Undocumented immigrants contribute to the economy. It is not only immigrants, who are legally present in the U.S., who are paying taxes. Undocumented immigrants make important contributions as well. An analysis based on the U.S. Census and other data estimated that undocumented immigrants paid $11.7 billion in state and local taxes.

How tax brackets actually work (YouTube) (Vox) and Who pays the lowest taxes in the US? (YouTube) (Vox) to explain the difference between progressive, regressive, proportional taxation, and how tax brackets function.

Tax Burden Equal to 70% Rate Crushes Americans Unable to Pay ( (article) About a quarter of lower-income workers effectively face marginal tax rates of more than 70% when adjusted for the loss of government benefits like Medicaid insurance, welfare payments, food stamps, housing vouchers and tax credits that are based on family incomes. That means for every $1,000 gained in income, $700 goes to the government in taxes or reduced spending. In some cases, there are no gains at all. Small increases in wages can bring big losses of benefits, reinforcing a negative cycle in which workers aren’t rewarded if they improve their skills or pay.

Additional Resources

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Radio Segments

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Link to Radio segments on maximizing tax benefits (WSCAT, Leah Guliasi)

This includes a variety of 2-4 minute radio segments about maximizing tax benefits, from KWSO 91.9FM. (Tax aide, tips, info, AARP)