As teenagers grow up, they are anxious to be counted as adults and enter the "real world." One out of three teenagers will have a job at the age of 16 and most agree it is nice to have the extra money. But with that come other aspects of the real world.
Teenagers who work lose a bit of their freedom and have to gain a little more responsibility. And the Wendy's visor or the Discovery Zone shirts aren't all that fun, either. But one thing many teenagers aren't ready to cope with is taxes.Taxes seem to be the one constant for every working person in the United States, a form of forced government participation. Most wealthy people get accountants to do their taxes for them, but many students don't even know what to do with their W-2 form when they get it in the mail.
Andrea Keyes, a junior at Taylorsville High School and an employee of Golden Swirl, says, "I didn't even know what a W-2 form was!"
Teenagers aren't educated about why paying taxes is necessary and what benefits they receive from their contribution. A common protest from many young people is expressed by Ryan Nigbur, a junior at Bingham High School. He says, "I don't like paying taxes because I don't even know where the money goes to."
However, another type of attitude is expressed by Taylorsville High junior Forrest La Jeunesse, who has held many different jobs. "Why should I pay taxes? Why should I help pay for welfare? Why should I help with foreign aid? I've been robbed by the government!"
Maybe these are the arguments teens have overheard their parents say every April 15. Teenagers don't like having part of their already low wages taken by the government. But some say a major flaw in today's tax system isn't the 1040 form on April 15; it's the ballot every first Tuesday in November - the one 16-year-olds can't fill out.
In 1967, many of our parents participated in one of the greatest movements of the 20th century. The United States was drafting young men into the military, many as young as 18 years old. And even though the draft in general was controversial, a major point of argument was that back then the voting age was 21.
Many men were forced to put their lives in danger, and they didn't have the right to speak against the war at the polls. Because of that, the voting age was lowered to 18.
Although no lives are endangered by paying taxes, young people are still outraged at this injustice. The legal working age starts at 16, but the voting age is still 18.
"That's what upsets me the most," says La Jeunesse, "It doesn't matter that I'll get a lot back in my return. I want to be able to vote on it." Through their first two years of fast food jobs, minimum wage and outrageous car insurance rates, those who work are forced to be silent.
"It seems ironic, considering that our very country was founded on `No taxation without representation,' " says La Jeunesse.
There are two possible remedies. The voting age can be lowered to 16. The argument against that is that students don't know enough about elections. Paul McCune, a senior at Kearns High, says, "I couldn't even name half the candidates that ran last year, let alone their issues."
Taxes could simply be eliminated until age 18. Paul says, "I make so little money, that I'm sure it wouldn't make a difference to the government."
Even though most students are in the lowest income brackets and receive large refunds, some feel paying taxes at such a young age is simply not smart.
Senior Jake Kendall says, "It's not like it's teaching me responsibility or anything. I just have my dad do my taxes anyway."
"Taxes just aren't fair," says senior Dominick Romero, "If I can't even vote on what kind of taxes I want to pay, I'm just going to quit when I'm 18 and go on welfare and get some of my tax money back."