No taxation without representation was a founding principle of the United States and a major cause of the American Revolution. Why it then, that employed minors are required to pay taxes even though they are unable to vote? Taxation without representation isn’t illegal, but it is highly hypocritical.
According to Governing Magazine, 80% of Oregon teenagers aged sixteen to nineteen are employed; many of these teenagers are likely filed as their parent’s dependents. Most of these teenagers, while made to pay taxes, aren’t able to vote— which to Americans is considered a founding right of the people. Teenagers are treated like adults; they are employed and are often tried in criminal court as adults, so they should also be allowed to vote like an adult. “If the government wants to treat teenagers as mature adults who should be held responsible for their crimes on sentencing day, it’s hypocritical and logically inconsistent to treat them as brainless children on Election Day,” said Jillian Keenan of The Daily Beast. This could all be fixed by allowing those who normally pay taxes to also vote, or by not making minors who can’t vote pay taxes.
Most teenagers who file their taxes get their money back, but as seen by the stress that surrounds tax season, this is an unnecessary step for employed teens to take. Doing taxes is enjoyed by almost nobody, as it is a complicated task— especially when you’ve never done them before. The case for many teens is that they aren’t properly educated on how to work finances or pay taxes, so when they have to pay them for the first time, it can be very difficult to understand.
Putting all hassle aside, the government is requesting money from someone who doesn’t receive as many benefits from it as other Americans. This restraint suggests that minors should be denied rights and are worth less than adults. “If the inhabitants of a certain area do not receive the basic right of decision, then why must they pay taxes to that area?” said Laura Beachy of Daily American newspaper. The requirement of minors to pay taxes would not be problematic if they were granted the right to vote.
This isn’t a worst case scenario for teenagers, as they tend to get income tax refunded when they file for a tax refund. This can be good, since it gives back a substantial percent of their money paid; but it also puts teenagers through a difficult process, which results in almost no positives for them. Minors are considered to be represented in the United States through politicians’ jobs of reflecting citizens’ general interest. This works for instances such as forming laws around public schooling. It’s difficult however, for adults to truly reflect what minors believe in. There are no laws against taxation without representation, as many who pay taxes choose not to vote or cannot vote. In some states, felons cannot vote but are still taxed, and Puerto Ricans pay some taxes but have no representation in the United States government.
Some like to defend this taxation without representation by claiming that minors aren’t educated enough to vote. Some may not be, but the same goes for plenty of adults who don’t know the representatives they’re voting for. Voting is a big responsibility, and no matter how limited it is, some will always misuse their privilege. If teenagers became more educated in their schools on how to vote, what their representatives are doing, and what they themselves believe in— there would be less of an issue. Many adults underestimate teenagers, but in the difficult current political climate, many are independently educating themselves and are completely capable of handling the responsibility of voting. Scotland, for example, has allowed sixteen and seventeen year olds to vote in their independence referendum, a situation in which the citizens of a territory decide whether the territory should become an independent sovereign state. Many also argue that the primary reason minors should not receive voting rights, is due to an underdeveloped frontal lobe, which can easily be dismissed. The frontal lobe doesn’t fully develop until a person’s late twenties, and besides— voting isn’t determined by intelligence. Setting the voting age lower may even push teenagers to educate themselvesmore on politics.
When it comes down to it, working teenagers are qualified to vote. Without it, they are being limited in their ability the change their government and meanwhile are being treated like second class citizens. No taxation without representation!