# Documented Problem Solving: Determining the Tax Structure

#### Summary

In class, the different tax structures were discussed. This exercise requires students to apply their knowledge about the different tax structures. Students are given income levels and must calculate the income tax rate. Then they are asked to determine the tax structure that is in place.

## Learning Goals

Students will:

- recall the formula used to calculate the income tax rate;
- apply the formula to specific situations;
- compare the different situations to determine the tax structure.

## Context for Use

## Description and Teaching Materials

This activity requires is a MC, T/F, or short answer question. Two of these options are given below.

If Jessica earns $40,000 per year and pays $6,000 in taxes, and Josh earns $35,000 per year and pays $6,000 in taxes, the tax system is considered to be:

a) Progressive.

b) Regressive.

c) Flat.

d) Proportional.

Answer: b

An example of a short answer question: If Jessica earns $40,000 per year and pays $6,000 in taxes, and Josh earns $35,000 per year and pays $6,000 in taxes, determine the tax structure that currently exists.

## Teaching Notes and Tips

## Assessment

A rubric such as this one can be used to find student errors or misunderstandings. The instructor can use the rubric or students can use the rubric to assess their own solution or that of another classmate.

- Review the lecture notes or text for definitions of tax structures - progressive, regressive, and proportional.
- Find the formula to calculate the
*percentage*of tax paid. It is the (amount of tax paid ÷ income earned) X 100%. - Use the formula to calculate Jessica's tax rate: ($6,000 ÷ $40,000) X 100%, so the rate is 15.0%.
- Use the formula to calculate Josh's tax rate: ($6,000 ÷ $35,000) X 100%, so the rate is 17.1%.
- Refer to the definitions again. In this case, when income rises the
*percentage of tax paid*does not go up. Instead it goes down. - A regressive tax structure is defined as one in which the tax percentage decreases as income rises, so this is an example of a regressive tax structure.

## References and Resources

Angelo, T.A. and Cross, K.P. (1993). *Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers*. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.