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I don't have children, and I never played one on TV. But I was a kid once and I still remember the early money lessons from my parents.

Baby with bucks
This little guy is too young for a discussion about money and taxes, but a solid financial education for current and future taxpayers could be key to improving a country's tax compliance rate.

Most notably, everything has a price.

One year when my younger brother and I had exceptionally long Christmas lists, we defended our extreme requests by noting that the items would come from Santa Claus. Our mom, not wanting to yet end that childhood illusion, nodded, then told us, "True, but Santa sends your dad and me a bill."

OK. The fat, happy man in red wasn't quite as magical as I thought. His elves had to be paid and those nine reindeer fed. I could accept that. So we trimmed our lists and still got plenty that Dec. 25.

Our financial education continued throughout the years, but I don't ever remember my folks having the talk about taxes with us.

Things worked out fine for me. But adding taxes to children's financial lesson plans is probably a good idea.

Global tax education efforts: That's what many nations worldwide are looking to do.

As governments are seeking to raise as much revenue as possible, they are reaching out to inform and engage today's -- and future -- taxpayers, according to a new publication by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

"They aim to foster an overall 'culture of compliance' based on rights and responsibilities, in which citizens see paying taxes as an integral aspect of their relationship with their government," says the OECD's Building Tax Culture, Compliance and Citizenship.

The self-described global source book on taxpayer education examines how countries are using taxpayer education as "the bridge linking tax administration and citizens" in order to transform their tax cultures.

Innovative tax education: The book looks at innovative strategies in 28 countries to expand taxpayer education, literacy and outreach. A key goal is to help the countries' revenue authorities strengthen the tax morale and tax compliance of their citizens.

The programs include:

  • National Income Tax Day in Bangladesh;
  • Time for Taxes calendar in Lebanon;
  • Tax and accounting classes for businesses in Bhutan and Korea;
  • Tax-themed computer games in Uruguay; and 
  • The tax soap opera "Binding Duty" in Nigeria.

Several countries also have school-based programs.

They range from educating teachers on how to teach taxes to specific classes for kids. My favorites are the tax education diploma in El Salvador and tax fun for children in Malaysia.

Grading the programs: Will informing folks about the role of taxes in their countries, especially starting at an early age, help create more tax responsible citizens?

It couldn't hurt.

No one likes paying taxes, but they are necessary. And here in the United States there too often is a major disconnect between the services provided at all governmental levels and the taxes that pay for them. Remember those "keep government out of my Medicare" signs at some anti-tax rallies?

This is not say that lawmakers should raise taxes indiscriminately or fund wasteful programs. Perhaps there should be some basic tax classes for government officials, too.

But the point of tax education is important. People will be more willing to fulfill their tax responsibilities when they fully understand whys and hows of the levies.

Elementary, secondary and college money courses: Many colleges offer personal financial management courses. My alma mater Texas Tech University has a nationally renowned program.

The effort to educate younger students has spread to many secondary schools, with some school districts requiring students to pass a basic personal finance course before they can graduate.

However, when it comes to younger students, guidance on how to manage allowances or monetary gifts from relatives usually falls to mom and/or dad.

Do you talk to your kids about financial issues in general? What about your personal money situation? How much do you share with your kids?

Are taxes part of your family financial conversations? If so, how do you explain them to your youngsters? Comedian Tim Slagle uses Halloween candy for his kids' tax lesson.

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About this time of year, after my son earned his first dollars walking the neighbor's dog, I realized he could start a Roth IRA with those earnings even though he owed no taxes. I had to fund the first year because he had already spent his money, but subsequent years I offered to match some of what he put in. Basically, he put in half of his earnings which I matched to max out his Roth contribution at 100% of earnings ($5,000 IRA contribution limit).
By the age of eighteen, he had over $25,000 accumulated in his own Roth IRA!
And a good savings habit as well.

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