It’s (Traumatic) Tax Time

Why not make it a money lesson for your kids?

Living

Barbara Stewart
March 20, 2014

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  • When I was growing up, I remember ‘doing taxes or tax time’ as being a terribly adult-sounding activity.  It was one of those mysterious tasks that had the allure of being extremely difficult: scary even!
    But as part of my ongoing research about women and how they learned about money when they were growing up, quite a few of them mention tax-time as a pivotal part of their upbringing. Perhaps not surprisingly, some of these women went on to professions in the financial industry. One successful woman’s Dad was a ‘self-made middle class investor’ who worked in the military. When she was 14 he gave her all his T4s and receipts and asked her to do his taxes for him. She had to ask a lot of questions of course but it was a great way to learn about money and life for that matter. It came easy to her and she soon knew all the lines on the tax form. As the years progressed, their discussions became more complex. He would ask her things like how it would affect her taxes if she ever had to get divorced or what happens if she had realized capital gains on her stock portfolio? She loved it, especially the more involved tax stuff, and she is now a freelance business editor. Another woman’s father suggested she invest the first $500 earned from her job at Canadian Tire. She fondly remembers him walking her into his broker’s office and she recalls the feeling of opening her first investment account. Even though her father was an accountant, he asked her to complete her own tax return. Her Dad would leave her in a room to figure it out and she would ask questions where necessary. Now she’s a Chartered Accountant and portfolio manager! Despite the stories above, it’s not just dads who care about tax time. Moms have to do their taxes too, so maybe this is the year to include your kids! I might skip putting their name on that line that asks if the return was prepared by anyone else though…