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A Taxing Education for Life

I don’t usually promote products on the blog but when HMRC came a calling I decided to make an exception; there are some free resources available to teachers, it felt like a public spirited thing to do and young people need to get to grips with tax issues before they start work.  The following has been put together by Maureen Pamplin, Head of Sustainability, HMRC

At HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) we believe teenagers should have an awareness of financial matters before they move into employment and adulthood, as young people are probably more likely to engage with the tax system than they are to use long division once they leave school.

Recognising the need to prepare youngsters for life after education and acknowledging the new requirement of the national curriculum in England, to teach young people about how public money is raised and spent, we have designed ‘Tax Facts’ – an introduction to the tax system aimed at 14-17 year olds studying subjects such as citizenship, business enterprise and personal finance.

Previously, HMRC had a very outdated tax education product for teenagers called ‘Tax Matters’. It was expensive to maintain and the basic graphics meant that it had lost its popularity in the classroom. Rather than try to overhaul that existing content, we opted to produce something brand new that would be much more in tune with the target audience and offer teachers more flexibility.

‘Tax Facts’ is a learning resource that aims to give students an overview of what to expect when they start earning. It’s also designed to help them understand the importance of paying tax, make them aware of the consequences for people who try to cheat the system and includes factual elements such as who we are and how to contact us.


Please click on me to go to the videos

The centrepiece is four, short, light-hearted animations, easily accessible via HMRC’s YouTube channel and available on DVD:

  • ‘About HMRC’ – a background to HMRC’s work and the basics of the tax system.
  • ‘Starting Your First Job’ – what to expect when you enter the world of work, such as tax deductions and National Insurance contributions.
  • ‘Working for Yourself’ – what to do if you’re planning to become self-employed.
  • ‘The Hidden Economy’ – how people try to get out of paying their taxes and what HMRC is doing to tackle this.

To complement the short animations we also created a full teachers’ pack and made it available on the Times Educational Supplement (TES) website. This includes lesson plans for each video, individual and group exercises, suggestions for discussion, a quiz and lots of supporting resources.

When formulating the campaign, the tone and style was one of our main considerations. It’s hard to imagine that tax matters are particularly high up in the YouTube search history of your average 14-17 year old. Also, as teenagers are pretty savvy, not to mention a touch cynical, we were mindful of not ‘dumbing down’ any of the content – or worse –  trying to guess what might be perceived as ‘cool’ within that age group.

We rigorously tested all the materials with young people then, refining on the basis of feedback and because of how we made it age appropriate, those involved in the campaign’s launch described it as “helpful, colourful, fun, interesting, cheerful and creative”. High praise indeed!

On the back of the success of ‘Tax Facts’, HMRC has been asked to extend the material to the new Core Maths programme, which provides practical maths skills for sixth-form students aged 16+ and we’re also planning to develop a junior version of ‘Tax Facts’ aimed at primary school pupils.

Maureen Pamplin, Head of Sustainability, HMRC



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