This four-slide simulation from the IRS helps single taxpayers learn under which circumstances they can claim siblings as dependents. The user assumes the role of Michael Brand and answers questions to determine whether the following tests are met: relationship, citizen, joint return, support, age, and residency.
Type of Material:
Simulation, case study and self-study.
In class as part of a lecture or as homework for individual review. A link could be placed in an online class management system.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
Students will learn the basic IRS rules regarding a taxpayer's legality in claiming a sibling as a dependent.
Target Student Population:
High school, college, general education introductory course in federal taxation.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Evaluation and Observation
The exercise is quick, simple and clear. In a few minutes the student could learn about the dependency tests. The simulation provides somewhat accurate information in that it is only four slides in length. The content covers the basic tests for determining whether a single taxpayer can claim his 14 year-old brother as a dependent. Questions to be answered with a yes or no are: relationship, citizen or resident, joint return, support, age, and residency.
The simulation is too simplistic. The joint return test is not fully explained. This term relates to a husband and wife, but the joint return test in the simulation required a yes answser. A more complete explanation is needed to describe the situation with a joint return test, rather than a single taxpayer.
A concern would be wheter the simulation is kept up-to-date and would remain so. This material was added to MERLOT March 16, 2003, so it must be at least that old. However, when the dependency tests were compared to the latest (2012) 1040 instructions. they are the same. One would come to the same conclusion following the 2012 rules.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The first slide of the simulation includes the objective for the module. No prerequisite skills are required. The simulation can easily be integrated into an introductory tax accounting course in high school or college. The simulation is short and should keep the student’s attention. The student can quickly grasp the dependency tests.
Concerns involve the potential confusion caused by the joint return test explained under quality of content.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The simulation is easy to use and functioned seamlessly with no issues or problems notes. It is interactive, in that the user must answer a series of questions to learn the outcome. The material provides both positive (green font) and negative (red font) feedback and lets users change responses. Slides are nicely designed.