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Why Should I Care?

Maybe you don't have to file taxes because you're not working full-time or your part-time job doesn't earn enough to make the U.S. government interested in you (yet). But you're not off the hook.

Here's why you should care about taxes.

(1) You're already paying them.

From the time you first got $5 from Aunt Judy and ran off happily to the store to buy yourself some candy, you were a consumer. Even before that, your parents were keeping you in clean diapers, a crib, and cute little onesies that will one day embarrass you when your mom hauls out the family photo albums to show your date.

Someone paid taxes on all of that.

Even if you're not working yet, you're paying taxes on everything you buy—that's why everything's always a little more than the sticker price and why you can't afford those $40 jeans even if you have $40 in your wallet.

(2) As soon as you start earning, taxes are going to get you.

One of the (many, many) reasons people complain so much about taxes is because they affect your spending power.

Two unmarried adults who earn $180,000 in California, for example, may only get to keep $120,000. That may seem like a lot, but in parts of California, it's not even enough to pay for the mortgage on a decent house. The reality is, the government is taking a hefty chunk of money—and not everyone agrees that they are getting benefits from government spending.

(3) You don't want to pay too much.

Even if you hate math, this is one area where learning a little bit can help. Knowing what deductions are and how they can help you reduce your tax burden can help you make different financial decisions so that you don't end up overpaying on your taxes.

(4) Taxes could affect how you vote.

Do you agree that taxes are a necessary way for the government to raise money? Or do you think that taxes are an unproductive way to keep the country running? How you answer will probably decide how you vote.

Love 'em or hate 'em, you're not going to get away from taxes, no matter how far you run.

They're already affecting you, so you might as well learn what they are and how they're being used.

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