Well, it’s April 15th once again, and if you’re a proud resident of the United States of America, that means one thing above all others: it’s tax day. Yes, today is the day when you need to have your taxes in the mail or face the full wrath of the IRS (an organization that the average American seems to imbue with more superpowers than a small army of super villians, and at least twice as much malevolence). Yes, on the list of least favorite days, April 15th is all but unrivaled.
But it doesn’t have to be a day of sorrow and dread; April 15th can be a day of happiness and light. Stop with the insane laughter; I’m not kidding! Let’s see some ways you can celebrate the day you help the government with the money it needs to provide for the public defense, create a social safety net and, um, build bridges to nowhere. (Hey, I’ll be the first to admit that not every government expenditure is an intelligent and well-thought out measure.) To celebrate April 15th, you could…
#10. File an Income Tax Extension: Hey, I understand; life gets busy and you might need some more time to organize your tax forms. If so, you can fill out the IRS’s form 4868 to get another six months (until October 15th) to finish filling out and mailing your tax forms. (Be aware, though, that the extension only applies to the tax paperwork; you still need to send in your tax payment by today or face stiff penalties. This is why ‘file for an extension’ isn’t the first suggestion in every tax advice column; unless you have a good idea of what you’ll owe and are ready to pay it, it could make a bad situation even worse.)
#9. Plan How to Use Your Refund: If you are in line to get a refund (I am, at least from the federal government, thanks in part to the ‘Making Work Pay’ tax credit), one way to make Tax Day more palatable is to think about what you’re going to do with that refunded money. Building up an emergency fund, kick starting your retirement investments, perhaps even having a little fun (with part of it, at least); all good choices for using YOUR money.
#8. Tweak Your Withholding: Alright, this might not seem very celebratory, but if you got an over large refund (a sign that you have let the government withhold too much for taxes) or worse, ended up owing a substantial amount of money (withholding too little), adjusting the amount you have withheld from your paycheck will make your 2010 taxes much easier to handle.
#7. (Belatedly) Celebrate Tax Freedom Day: For those of you not in the know, Tax Freedom Day is the day when the average person has earned enough to meet their tax obligations; from that point on, the money you earn is yours to keep. This year it fell on April 9th, nearly a week ago. So, drink a belated toast that you’re now working for yourself and not the government from this point on.
#6. Enjoy Some Tax Day Freebies: Now we’re talking! Because corporations know what a pain Tax Day can be (and are usually good at promotion whenever they get the opportunity), there are plenty of freebies to had today, from cupcake bites at Cinnabon to cookies at Subway. A few sweets should make the taxes go down easier.
#5. Find a Tax Day Celebration: You’re not alone; there are few people who enjoy Tax Day. Luckily, with so many people trying to put it behind them, there are frequently some good celebrations to be had as everyone celebrates getting their taxes out of the way for another year. A quick search of your town (or a nearby urban area) and ‘Tax Day Celebrations’ could turn up any number of fun and relaxing events; a school of massage is apparently offering free massages in Pittsburgh, for example. As for some other social options…
#4. Watch (or Attend) the Tea Party Protests: This year, there’s going to plenty of fireworks (of a metaphorical kind, at least) as the Tea Party protesters are planning to stage another protest in Washington (with plenty of affiliated protests around the country) to advocate for less government and lower taxes. It’s probably too late to get to Washington for the protests (or the nearly inevitable counter protests) but given how colorful these protests and counter-protests can get, it should provide some good entertainment on the evening news, if nothing else.
#3. Even More Tax Days Offers: The list of Tax Day promotions is even longer than I thought. The Bargainist has a few more Tax Day bargains, from a free massage at Hydromassage (apparently a sizable number of people think you’ll need a massage after paying your taxes; they might be right…) to gift card bonuses at T.G.I.Friday’s. (It’s also worth mentioning that McDonald’s is running a special on hamburgers and cheeseburgers from 5 to 7 p.m. This isn’t a tax thing, though; it’s celebrating the anniversary of McDonald’s founding. Still, if you get a hankering for a burger today…)
#2. Read A Good Book: One of the easiest, most enjoyable, and (at least to me) most fun ways to take your mind off your troubles (or tax related burnout) is to read a good book, preferably something happy and humorous. The last thing you may want to do is to read a book about government when you’ve so recently paid your taxes, but if you want a funny take on what the Feds will do with your money, consider reading Parliament of Whores by P.J. O’Rourke or America (The Book) from Jon Stewart and the cast of the Daily Show. Both are hilarious looks at how the government works (or doesn’t work) that will have you laughing out loud. (Until you realize how true they really are and start to cry…)
And the best way to celebrate Tax Day 2010…
#1. Enjoy Yourself: Tax Day is here, the months (or weeks, days, or maybe even hours, for procrastinators or the highly efficient) of gathering paperwork, staring at nigh incomprehensible forms, and filling out your taxes have ended, the paperwork has been filed, and you’re free from worrying for a while, at least. Relax, kick back, and enjoy being free from worries about taxes until next year (or at least for several months, if you filled for an extension). You’ve done your part to keep the country chugging along; now, just rest for a while, maybe enjoy some of the aforementioned freebies, and above all, have a great April 15th, everyone!