Theme 2 Lesson 7:
Uncle Sam Takes a Bite

Young people are sometimes surprised to learn that the pay they earn is not the same as the pay they take home. This lesson introduces students to the concepts of gross pay, net pay, marginal tax rate, income taxation, tax planning using pretax dollars for retirement savings and insurance, and the completion of Form 1040EZ. It teaches them how to compute tax savings from using pre-tax dollars for insurance and retirement plans. It asks the question, "Is it better to get a tax refund or to withhold lower tax payments throughout the year?" The students use paycheck stubs, W-2 forms, and tax tables to calculate taxable income, marginal tax rates, and taxes owed. They also complete a 1040EZ form.

Visuals & Activities


  • Gross Pay
  • Income
  • Income Tax
  • Net Pay
  • Taxation

Standards in Economics and Personal Finance

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