INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — As Tax Day approaches, Poptential™, a family of free social studies course packages, offers instructors media-rich content to teach key concepts about taxation in the United States. Click to tweet.

Poptential course packages boost student engagement by using a variety of pop culture media to illustrate concepts, including those taken from sitcoms, movies, animations, cartoons, late-night shows, and other sources.

Tax Day ordinarily falls on April 15 each year; however, this year the federal tax deadline for individuals to submit their tax returns and pay taxes owed on 2022 income has been moved to April 18.

“This year, Tax Day falls on a Saturday and is then followed by a holiday, so taxpayers have an extra three days to file returns,” said Julie Smitherman, a former social studies teacher and director of content at Certell, Inc., the nonprofit behind Poptential. “The day provides a great opportunity for teachers to discuss the history of taxation in the United States, and to show students how taxes impact buying power.”

Content available in Poptential includes:

●     The Tax Man Always Gets His Cut: On January 24, 1916, income tax was ruled constitutional in the United States. Poptential includes a Bell Ringer on January 24 that features a video clip from Friends in which Rachel receives her first paycheck and realizes how FICA, social security, and income taxes impact what workers actually get to keep. The Bell Ringer also includes a video by stand-up comedian Michael Che on how income taxes are taken, not paid.

●     How Americans Spend Their Tax Refund Checks: A chart in the April 15 Bell Ringer illustrates how individuals use tax refunds. Also included is a video clip by YouTube personality Graham Stephan discussing how the IRS has increased its audit budget to go after income tax payments.

●     Why Some People Pay A Higher Tax Rate: Because the United States institutes a progressive tax structure, those with higher incomes may pay a larger percentage of their income in taxes compared to those with lower incomes. This video in Poptential Economics Module 7 features the Beatles’ song Taxman, an anthem that directly criticizes members of the British Government for instituting incredibly high income taxes on the wealthy in the 1960s.

●     Are Income Taxes Fair: Poptential Economics Module 7 also includes an explanation of the federal progressive income tax structure. This educational video compares the advantages and disadvantages of a progressive tax versus a flat tax system so students can decide which they believe is fairer. A video clip from Everything Everywhere All At Once illustrates how complicated tax rules can be.

●     Once There Was A Voting Tax: Poptential’s January 26 Bell Ringer highlights how during the Jim Crow era, from the 1870s through the 1960s, Southern states enacted literacy tests and poll taxes, a fixed sum of money one had to pay regardless of income or resources. This law was put in place to keep black people from voting and required individuals to provide evidence that they had paid their poll tax for the current year in order to vote. This clip from the 2014 film Selma shows Annie Lee Cooper, played by Oprah Winfrey, attempting to register to vote.

Poptential course packages include everything instructors need to teach a subject, including lessons, e-books, bell ringers, quizzes, and tests. The curriculum is standards-based and developed by teachers. Poptential is available via a digital platform that allows students to access lessons even in poor bandwidth environments. Course packages in American History, World History, U.S. Government/Civics, and Economics are available free at

About Certell, Inc.

Certell is a 501(c)3 nonprofit whose mission is to foster a generation of independent thinkers. More than 100,000 users from throughout the United States have signed up for Certell’s Poptential™ family of free social studies courses. Certell course packages have won a number of awards, including EdTech Digest Awards for Curriculum and Instruction Solution, Tech&Learning Best Tool for Back to School, Tech Edvocate Awards, Bronze Award of Excellence from the National Association of Economics Educators, and Civvys Awards. More information is available at

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