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2013 Tax Day Dining Deals Roundup

2013 Tax Day Dining Deals Roundup



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Benjamin Franklin spoke the truth: the only things that are certain in life are death and taxes. This Tax Day, chains around the country know that we might be feeling the pinch, and have decided to reward us for all our hard work this year with some discounts and freebies (be sure to call ahead before heading over, though; in some cases not all locations are participating).

Cinnabon: These guys are continuing their yearly tradition of offering two free Cinnabon bites to anyone who walks through their doors from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on April 15, no purchase necessary. You can find more details (and RSVP if you feel like it) on their Facebook page.

Boston Market: You can get a "Big Rib-bate" (groan), as Boston market will be celebrating the launch of their St. Louis-style BBQ ribs by selling two ribs meals for just $10.40. Each meal includes a quarter rack of ribs with mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, and homemade cornbread. And if you can’t make it in this Tuesday, you can enter to win some free ribs, and get $1-off coupon, by visiting their website.

Chick-fil-A: This one’s pretty simple: Make a purchase on Tax Day, come back with your receipt in May, and get a full refund. Call ahead, though, because not all locations are participating, and redemption dates vary.

Great American Cookies: Drop by and get a free birthday cake cookie, no questions asked.

Sonic: All drinks and slushies will be selling for half off, all day long.

Arby’s: Print out this coupon, and you’ll get a free value-sized order of curly fries or potato cakes.

Panda Express: This is a big one: On Wednesday, April 17, if you print out this coupon (or show it to them on your mobile phone), you’ll get a free order of Samurai Surf & Turf.

Schlotzsky’s: If you buy a 32-ounce drink and chips on April 15, you’ll get a free "The Original" sandwich, which piles ham, salami, cheese, and fixins on sourdough bread.

Bruegger’s Bagels: Get this coupon through their Facebook page, and you’ll get 13 bagels and two tubs of cream cheese for $10.49.

AMC Theaters: You’ll get a free small popcorn from April 12th through the 15th if you print out this coupon.

Chili’s: If you purchase an adult entrée between April 16 and 18, you can score a free appetizer or dessert if you show them this coupon.

White Castle: All purchases made through April 15 can be reduced by 15 percent if you show them this coupon.


Back to School 2013 Tax Holidays

Back to school 2013 is right around the corner and 15 states have tax holidays, which is a tax free shopping weekend to help you save money on school supplies. The following list shows what is tax free on what dates, organized by state (thanks to TaxAdmin.org for this info).

Alabama – Aug 2-4 – clothing $100 computers $750 school supplies $50 books $30

Arkansas – Aug 3-4 – clothing $100 school supplies

Connecticut – Aug 18-24 – clothing and footwear $300

Florida – Aug 2-4 – school supplies $15 clothing $75 computer $750

Georgia – Aug 9-10 – school supplies $20 clothing $100 computer $1,000

Iowa – Aug 2-3 – clothing $100

Louisiana – Aug 2-3 – all TPP (not sure what TPP means)

Maryland – Aug 11-17 – clothing and footwear $100

Mississippi – July 26-27 – clothing and footwear $100

Missouri – Aug 2-4 – clothing $100 computers $3,500 school supplies $50

New Mexico – Aug 2-4 – clothing $100 computers $1,000 computer equip. $500
school supplies $30

North Carolina – Aug 2-4 – clothing $100 school supplies $100 instructional material $300 computers $3,500 other comp. $250 sports equip $50

Tennessee – Aug 2-4 – clothing $100 school supplies $100 computers $1,500

Texas – Aug 9-11 – clothing, backpacks, school supplies $100

Virginia clothing $100 school supplies $20


Tax Day Freebies, Promotions, Deals and Specials

Tax Day is just around the corner. Nobody likes writing a big check to Uncle Sam but there is some good news: Tax Day also means free stuff, promotions, deals and specials. After you pop your return (or your extension) in the mail, kick back and take advantage of some of the promos and specials. More and more will be popping up so check back today and tomorrow (especially closer to lunch and again at happy hour). I’ll highlight the updated entries for you to make it quick. Here’s what’s on tap so far:

Hotels, Entertainment & Restaurants

Arby's. Arby’s is planning to offer a free Snack-Sized Curly Fry on April 15 at all Arby’s locations nationwide. Guests can visit Arbys.com or Arby’s social channels to print a coupon.

Boston Market. Boston Market, the fast casual restaurant chain is offering a "Tax Day Deal Chicken Meal" on April 15, when all guests can receive two half chicken individual meals for just $10.40. The "Tax Day Deal Chicken Meal" offers guests two individual meals, each including a half rotisserie chicken with a choice of two home style sides and freshly baked cornbread. George Michel (a.k.a. “The Big Chicken”), CEO of Boston Market said about the deal (downloads as a pdf), "While no one enjoys 1040 forms, our 2 for $10.40 deal provides delicious meals at an affordable price, and that’s something our guests can feel good about this Tax Day." No coupon is needed to enjoy the offer, which is available at all Boston Market locations on April 15, 2014.

Burritt Room at the Mystic Hotel by Charlie Palmer (San Francisco). From April 1 - 15, the Burritt Room at the Mystic Hotel by Charlie Palmer is offering a special cocktail called the Tax Man (Gin, Thyme Liqueur, Aperol, Strawberry, Lemon, Seltzer) for $12.

The Tax Man cocktail, image courtesy of Charlie Palmer's Burritt Room

California Tortilla. Declaring that "Queso Makes Life Less Taxing," California Tortilla is offering free chips and queso with any purchase on April 15, 2014, while supplies last. No coupon is needed: just say "Taxes, Schmaxes" to the cashier to claim your deal.

Esquared Hospitality. For Tax Day (Tuesday, April 15th), global restaurant group ESquared Hospitality will be offering 50% off all alcoholic beverages. Enjoy specialty cocktails, beer, wines by the glass or bottle, and spiked shakes (available at GO Burger Bar & Grill only) at half the price. This promotion includes the following: New York City (BLT Steak New York, BLT Prime, BLT Fish, BLT Fish Shack, BLT Bar & Grill, Casa Nonna, GO Burger Bar & Grill and Juni) White Plains, NY (BLT Steak White Plains) Hawaii (BLT Steak Waikiki) Atlanta (BLT Steak Atlanta) Charlotte (BLT Steak Charlotte) Chicago (The Florentine) Miami (BLT Steak Miami) and Washington, D.C. (BLT Steak DC).

Gerber Group venues. Gerber Group venues Whiskey Park, Whiskey Blue, Living Room, Stone Rose Lounge and The LCL: Bar & Kitchen will offer a specialty Jalapeño Margarita for $8.88, an ode to New York's sales tax percentage ($8.8875%).

Great American Cookies. Great American Cookies says that, "Refund or not, you deserve a cookie on #TaxDay." Stop by participating locations at Great American Cookies on April 15 for a free chocolate chip cookie!

Hard Rock Cafe. This year, on Tax Day, Hard Rock Cafe is cutting Americans a break across the country by asking them to lay down their wallets and pick up the mic! Warm up those vocal cords as Hard Rock Cafe opens up its stages to give fans a chance to “Sing for Their Supper” on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. On Tax Day, guests will have the opportunity to select their favorite song and take the stage to perform at their local Hard Rock Cafe. Guests who perform a complete song on their Hard Rock Cafe’s live music stage in front of the entire restaurant will receive a free dinner entrée from Hard Rock’s new menu. Singers can choose from a selection of new menu items and classic Hard Rock favorites, including the Grilled Vegetable Sandwich, Arugula Salad with Shaved Marinated Chicken, Legendary Big Cheese Burger or Veggie Burger as their free meal.

NEW -> Historic Mission Inn Hotel & Spa (Riverside, CA). Tax Return & Relax. Albert Einstein once said, “The hardest thing in the world to understand is income tax.” The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa understands your need to spend a day or two relaxing after filing taxes. They invite you to spend some ‘relaxation time’ with them this April: you may not be able to deduct it, but you’ve certainly earned it! The Tax Free Package includes: overnight Deluxe accommodations Casey’s Cupcakes for two $25 resort gift card to spend at any of the Inn’s award-winning restaurants, lounges or Kelly’s Spa and Boutique and complimentary valet parking. Starting at $169*, available 4/1/14 – 4/30/14.

Hotel Monaco Chicago (Chicago, IL). Relax with No Tax. Imbibe, Relax and Save (IRS)! Put your tax return to good use with a tax break package at the hotel including: IMBIBE: $25 beverage credit at South Water Kitchen RELAX: $50 in-room spa credit during your stay SAVE: No occupancy or lodging taxes on your room rate. Book online or call 866-610-0081 and mention rate code NOTAX. Valid for stays April 1-30, 2014. Rates are subject to availability, blackout dates may apply.

Hotel Monaco Portland (Portland, OR). On April 15, the hotel will offer complimentary chair massage during wine hour to soothe those 'taxed' nerves. There will also be champagne on hand for anyone who wants to toast their refund or chocolate for those who need to forget their financial sorrows/losses. Guests must show the front desk that they owe money to Uncle Sam (a tax return or other official document) to receive a free cocktail at the adjacent Red Star Tavern. The restaurant will also offer up a selection of specialty cocktails for just $4.15.

Hotel Palomar Dallas (Dallas, TX). Gimme a Break - Tax Season Special: 10% off best available rate at the hotel $40 food and beverage credit. Available now through May 3, 2014. Use rate code GMAB.

Hotel Palomar Philadelphia (Philadelphia, PA). With so many accounting professionals diligently dedicating their waking hours to preparing and filing taxes up until the 11th hour, Kimpton's Hotel Palomar Philadelphia celebrates these hard-working professionals with a new special tax relief happy hour package. For $35 per tax payer, there will be butler passed hors d'oeuvres, imported and domestic cheeses, oven-roasted vegetables and a two-hour open bar catered by Square 1682 (available from April 15-30, 2014).

Kona Ice. To ease the pain of tax filing, Kona Ice is serving up a frozen cup of tax day relief for tense taxpayers in all areas of the country. On April 16th, the day after Tax Day, the brand will have trucks parked at community parks in all corners of the country to hand out FREE cups of fluffy snow and complimentary Hawaiian lei's to all who stop by. The refreshing treat will ensure that there is no taxation without relaxation this tax season and represent the “Chill” Kona Ice is spreading.

Martinis Above Fourth Table + Stage (San Diego, CA). Martinis Above Fourth Table + Stage will present a show on April 15 called Three Divas - A Lover, A Lot and A Librarian featuring three of San Diego's favorite performers. You can get a 15% discount on tickets by using the code TAXDAY15. They say: taxes shmaxes! Come out and have some fun! Purchase tickets online @ http://tinyurl.com/q2sqcge.

NEW -> Maya Del Sol. Maya Del Sol is once again offering customers a chance to ‘Pay What Is Fair’ for dinner on tax filing day for the 6th year in a row. From 4pm to 9pm on Tuesday, April 15th, customers at the popular Latin Fusion restaurant will have the opportunity to decide what to pay for their meal. When seated for dinner, customers are given a menu without any prices. Once their meal is complete, guests write in the price they think is fair for their meal, which is what they will be charged. The ‘Pay What Is Fair’ offer will apply to the food menu only beverages, tax and gratuity will be excluded. The ‘Pay What Is Fair’ promotion is available only on Tuesday, April 15th, 2014. Reservations are strongly recommended and should be made by calling 708.358.9800. For more details about the promotion, call Paul Abu-Taleb at 708-228-2657 (cell) or 708-358-9800 (restaurant).

Newport Beachside Hotel & Resort (Sunny Isles Beach, FL). No Taxation without Relaxation. The hotel is offering a series of hotel and spa promotions to take the edge off of Tax Day. Enjoy a 7% deduction on hotel stays booked between April 1st and April 30th or cash in on a selection of 1040EZ specials at the Aveda Seven Seas Spa & Salon including a polish change, eyebrow wax or hair consultation and trim available for $10.40 each. For reservations, call 305.949.1300 or toll-free at 800.327.5476.

The Oceanfront Litchfield Inn (Pawleys Island, SC). The Oceanfront Litchfield Inn is offering a 1040 EZ Package. Enjoy $10.40 off per night. Offer cannot be combined with other offers or promotions. Limited number available.

Orange Leaf Yogurt. To help ease the pain of Tax Day (4/15), all of the more than 300 Orange Leaf locations across the country will be offering customers a great deal: fill your cup for $4.15. On average, this amounts to approximately 50% off, depending on how much froyo and toppings the customer chooses. Claim the offer by visiting the Orange Leaf Facebook page and downloading a coupon.

NEW -> Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa. In honor of Tax Day (April 15), tax-filing travelers have reason to celebrate as Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa is offering special incentives throughout the recently renovated resort. Travelers looking to unwind after filing their returns can receive a complimentary Red Rumrunner cocktail at 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill when they show their W2. As an added perk since April is also National Stress Awareness Month, Allegria Spa is offering a 20% discount on any massage, body treatment or facial treatments for those who show their W2 at the award-winning spa. The Allegria Spa offer is valid through April 20th.

Salvatore's Restaurants (Greater Boston). On Tax Day, Tuesday, April 15th, 2014, Salvatore's Restaurant, the upscale casual Italian eatery with five locations in the Greater Boston area, celebrates the unveiling of its new spring menu with tax-free dining. Offering a special break on Tax Day, Salvatore's invites diners to sample the menu while enjoying a tax-free dining experience. The special tax break is only available on Tax Day and applies to food purchases only.

Schlotzsky's. All Schlotzsky's locations are offering one free small "The Original" sandwich with the purchase of chips and a 32 oz. drink on Tax Day, April 15 (no coupon required).

NEW -> Sonny's BBQ Ribs. Sonny's BBQ is offering an Irresistible Ribs Special (IRS). All day, April 15th every Sonny’s BBQ location will be offering half off on Sweet & Smokey or House Dry-Rubbed Ribs lunch or dinner plate. "Doing your taxes is a lot like making ribs," says Dominic Losacco, Vice President of Marketing for Sonny’s BBQ, "It’s a long slow process, but the outcome can be fantastic, if you know what you’re doing." Sonny’s BBQ is located in: AL, GA, FL, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC & TN. Dine in only and no coupon needed.

Springmaid Beach Resort (Myrtle Beach, SC). Springmaid Beach Resort is offering a 1040 Taxation Vacation Package. The package includes deluxe accommodations with a $10.40 deduction per night off the room rate and breakfast for two for only $10.40 per night. Offer cannot be combined with other offers or promotions. Limited number available.

Surfside Beach Resort (Myrtle Beach, SC). Surfside Beach Resort is offering a Tax Day $99 Package. Studies show the top 1 percent of Americans took a record share of U.S income last year. In honor of the other 99% hard-working Americans, Surfside Beach Resort is offering two night stays for $99. Stay Sunday-Thursday from 3/30/14-5/1/14 in one of our Deluxe Two Queen Ocean View Balcony Rooms. This offer includes 2 night accommodations deluxe room with a private balcony complimentary Wi-Fi and Parking access to our outdoor pool and hot tub and complimentary coffee service in the lobby. This offer cannot be combined with other offers or promotions, not valid for groups, limited number of rooms available. For more information please call 800-533-7599.

NEW -> Westin New York Grand Central hotel. The Tax Is On Us Deal: The Westin New York Grand Central hotel is throwing in the tax for free, by offering a 15% reduction in rates through December 31, 2014, when booked now through May 15, 2014. (Lodging taxes in NYC are approximately 15%.) Use the rate plan TAXBRK when booking online at www.WestinNewYorkGrandCentral.com.

Shopping & Electronics

MVPee.com. MVPee.com is giving out 1,000 "Abolish the IRS" apple scented urinal screens FREE to the first 1,000 people that request (+ $3.00 shipping/handling). MVPee.com is the only urinal screen company in the world to provide fresh urinal screens for bars, restaurants, convenience and nightclubs on a monthly basis.

White Aspen Boutique (CA). White Aspen Boutique is offering customers 15% off for tax day. Use the coupon here (the coupon code is W-2).

Tax Software & Professionals

Efile.com. Efile.com is an online tax company and an IRS-authorized Electronic Return Originator (ERO). Currently they're offering an "expecial promo": efile an extension for $9.95 and and get 50% off your tax return (expires October 15, 2014). You can find more info about the offer here: http://www.efile.com/tax-extension/irs-tax-extension/.

TaxConnections. With thousands of tax advisors offering a world of tax expertise, TaxConnections invites consumers and tax professionals to TaxConnections Worldwide Directory of Tax Professionals. Consumers can take advantage of a Free Membership to access www.taxconnections.com while tax professionals can get a 45 Day Free Trial Tax Professional Membership which includes a full page native ad on their tax services (to join as an Annual Gold Member and send a message using the "Contact Us Today" button at the bottom of every page on TaxConnections and simply say, "Kelly sent me to TaxConnections!").

Home & Business Services

MasterLock. Master Lock Vault, a free safe and secure online storage and organization system is offering tax tips and the chance to win one of five $1,000 prizes when customers register for a Vault account as part of the Master Lock "Tax Relief Rewards" Sweepstakes.

MyCorporation. MyCorporation is running an "Incorporate or Form an LLC for FREE on Tax Day" promotion. On a day when business owners and entrepreneurs are having to send in tax payments, this is a great way to offer business owners some 'relief' from our document processing fees. The promo is good for all 50 states - any state a business owner wants to incorporate in, the fees will be waived.

Philadelphia Business Journal. It’s As Good As A Refund! This is PBJ's version of tax relief: subscribe now and save 25% off the regular subscription price. You’ll receive the Weekly Edition in print and digital formats, and the Apple Newsstand app – at no charge! Offer expires April 15th at midnight.

South Coast Air Quality Management District (SoCal). The annual program to improve air quality by exchanging polluting gas-powered mowers for high-performance electric mowers, registration opens the day after Tax Day on April 16. SoCal residents who exchange a gas mower can get up to 75% off the price of an electric brand-name mower. It's perfect timing for people who are getting back their tax refunds.

Please note that these specials are based on information passed along from companies and their representatives, as well as social media. While I've made every effort to make sure that they're accurate, I haven't been by each location so I can't vouch for all of them. Remember, too, that many of these companies are franchises and may have different promotions or may not participate at all. If you’re concerned, give a quick call - or tweet - before you show up.

Some companies require a coupon or a "like" on Facebook and I’ve tried to link to those which do. If you are not sure, then err on the side of checking out websites (I’ve included links, where possible) first.

And if you have a lead on a Tax Day deal promotion, deal or special, let me know. You can tweet @taxgirl, post a note on Facebook, email me or just post in the comments below.

Thanks – and happy (tax) returns!

Want more taxgirl goodness? Pick your poison: receive posts by email, follow me on twitter (@taxgirl), hang out with me on Facebook or check out my YouTube channel. If you want to keep an eye on documents I've posted, check out my profile on Scribd. And finally, you can subscribe to my podcast on the site or via iTunes (it's free).


Taxpayers Have More Time To File In 2016

(Update: I was reminded that next year is also a leap year! That means, if tax season starts on time, there will be four extra days for most taxpayers. I included the adjustments below as strikes, not deletions, as a nod to the extra day. H/T to @briancpaMI)
Three Four more days!
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced that most taxpayers will have additional time to file their federal income tax returns in 2016.
Traditionally, Tax Day is April 15 unless that date falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, in which case the due date for federal income tax returns gets pushed ahead to the next business day.
In some years, the District of Columbia observes Emancipation Day on the same day as Tax Day, which affects the nation’s tax filing deadline – so the deadline gets moved.
Emancipation Day marks the anniversary of the day that former President Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act, freeing 3,100 slaves. Since the Act was signed about nine months before the famous Emancipation Proclamation, slaves who were liberated in D.C. are considered those “first freed” by the federal government. The holiday was celebrated annually after the Civil War for many years there was a break in the observance of the holiday in 1901 and celebrations didn’t resume until more than 100 years later. In 2005, Emancipation Day was made an official public holiday D.C. Under Section 7503 of the Tax Code, D.C. holidays are treated just like federal holidays which means that tax deadlines get pushed ahead to the next business day.
Next year is a little odd. Emancipation Day falls on a Saturday in 2016. You’d think that Emancipation Day would get pushed ahead to Monday, April 18, 2016 – but it doesn’t. It actually gets pushed back. By law, when April 16 falls during a weekend, Emancipation Day is observed on the nearest weekday – not necessarily the following weekday. That means, in 2016, Emancipation Day will be observed on Friday, April 15, on what would normally be Tax Day. Tax Day, which falls on a Friday, gets pushed ahead by statute to the next business day, which is Monday, April 18, 2016. Confused yet?
It gets even more complicated. Remember when I said that *most* taxpayers get three four extra days? If you’re in the far northeast, you get even more of a break. Patriots’ Day, which marks the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord (the first battles of the American Revolutionary War), is observed as a public holiday on the third Monday in April. In 2016, Patriots’ Day will be observed on Monday, April 18, in Maine and Massachusetts. Pursuant to Section 7503 of the Tax Code, when a legal holiday, including a statewide legal holiday, falls in the state where a tax office is located, the due date for returns in that state is pushed forward. Since, Patriots’ Day is a statewide legal holiday in Massachusetts and Maine, individual taxpayers in those states will have until April 19, 2016 – four five extra days – to file and pay their taxes.
Got all that? Don’t worry, you can’t count on plenty of reminders before then. Details can be found in Revenue Ruling 2015-13, which won’t even be published in Internal Revenue Bulletin 2015-22 until June 1, 2015.


Purchase now through December 17, 2021 for the 4-Day and 5-Day Disney Military Promotional Ticket. Valid February 15, 2021 through December 17, 2021.


Make the Switch for Soft and Strong Tushie Tissue

Finding high-quality products at the lowest possible price is important to most families like ours. One household item that I never want to sacrifice quality is our toilet paper. The only problem is that in a household with three young children causing us to through so many rolls a week, we are forced to purchase a lower priced toilet paper than we would like.

Our family has been using Angel Soft® for many years because of its reputation for softness and having an affordable price point until recently. Every back-to-school season, my husband and I, work on our family budget and discuss ways our family can save. I recently learned that the Charmin® Essentials Soft and Charmin® Essentials Strong toilet paper is now available at a desirable price point.

We swapped out our currently Angel Soft® toilet paper for Charmin® Essentials Soft and immediately noticed a difference. We didn’t tell our children about the switch, and they immediately commented on how soft our toilet paper had become, and that it was even soft enough for them to use instead of tissue to sneeze into.

It’s not just the softness that our family loves about the new products but also that Charmin® Essentials Strong lasts longer than the previous brand we were using. Which means less work for me having to stock the bathroom less often with supplies.

Guess what? Charmin is inviting families to upgrade their Angel Soft® to Charmin Essentials Soft and Scott® 1000 for Charmin Essentials Strong. If you want to upgrade like our family did, you can get a free roll by tweeting a picture of your toilet paper swap out and tagging @Charmin along with the hashtags #CharminEssentials and #Promotion.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Peanut Butter Balls

Mix dry ingredients then mix in the honey and peanut butter. If desired, dip in chocolate.


Coupons for spring weather.

After the crazy month of April we have had. record snowfall. we can only hope that Spring is here to stay in Minnesota.

Here are some personal care coupons to pass along. Notice that I have included some coupons for items to help you get your feet, legs, arms, etc. ready for sandals, shorts, and t-shirts. LOL!!

Save money with reusable single-brew cups! Check out the Cafe Cup!

Do you own one of those fun individual Keurig-type coffee or tea brewers? Have you ever felt a tad bit guilty for throwing all of those little individual cups away.

Here's a great offer to help with that guilty feeling!! :)

Save money by buying your favorite brand, and reuse these cute little cups.

There are affiliate links in this post that help support this site at no additional cost to you. Read the full disclosure policy here. Pin It


Lemon Grove tax preparer arrested in Phoenix

Tax preparer Cynthia Lozano of Lemon Grove was arrested in Phoenix on Monday, April 15 (Tax Day) and stands accused of stealing the identity of more than 200 people, filing false returns on their behalf and collecting over $1 million in tax refunds.

“Frequently, the taxpayers were unaware that Lozano used their Social Security numbers thus also becoming victims of aggravated identity theft. As a result, Lozano improperly received over $1 million from the IRS in fraudulent refunds which she laundered through a bewildering maze of bank accounts,” says a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

The money was used by Lozano to purchase 20 properties in the Phoenix metro area, all of which are targeted for forfeiture in a 33-count indictment, charging her with wire fraud, tax fraud, mail fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Lozano faces up to 47 years in prison and $750,000 in fines in addition to the loss of real estate she obtained with proceeds from the fraud.


Small-business owners tackle tax season

Mike Schak used to do all his own taxes for the St. Paul technology consulting business he started in 1999. He would spend almost 30 hours each year studying changes in the tax code and about five hours doing all the paperwork by hand.

“It wasn’t easy,” Schak said. “You’re trying to run a business, and this is just one more thing you have to do. And this one doesn’t make any money.”

Schak now works with a certified tax preparer to file his return, but he still doesn’t look forward to it. And he’s not alone.

Small-business owners across the country juggle the demands of their day jobs while moonlighting as their own accountants, often facing hundreds of regulations they don’t fully understand and aiming at a moving target of deductions, credits and incentives that can lower their taxes — but also can change each year.

Bookkeepers and accountants, meanwhile, talk of sorting through shoeboxes and notebooks full of receipts from small-business owners who can’t spend too much time working for free for Uncle Sam.

There are ways for business owners to minimize the headaches that can accompany tax season — and make their bookkeepers happier as well. But while getting one’s financial records in order is a good start, it’s often more difficult than it sounds, said Eric Stone, a financial consultant and volunteer with the St. Paul chapter of SCORE, a national organization that helps and advocates for small businesses.

“A lot of small businesses have just a mess of records,” Stone said. “They might not even have an accounting system in place.”

Schak, the technology consultant, says this is common among business owners he knows. “I see a lot of people who just throw their receipts in a drawer until the end of the year,” he said.

Stone points out that larger companies often employ full-time accountants, but small businesses rarely have the resources to keep even a bookkeeper on staff.

“That usually falls on the shoulders of the business owner,” said Jennifer Heifort, vice president of Fiscal Foundations, a Bloomington-based organization that offers bookkeeping services.

“This time of year, we get an awful lot of boxes (of financial documents), and we do a lot of data entry,” Heifort said.

Stone and Heifort both recommend using consumer accounting software like QuickBooks. At a minimum, Stone says, a record of money coming in and money going out should be maintained in a spreadsheet.

Heifort says these records should be updated monthly or, at the very least, quarterly. Fiscal Foundations offers a free QuickBooks training seminar once a month.

TurboTax and H&R Block also offer two of the more popular and affordable small-business tax programs.

For payroll taxes, which require more frequent filings, QuickBooks suits Schak, but he has only three part-time employees. He says business owners who employ more people should consider hiring a tax professional.

Navigating the tax code can be difficult even for veteran business owners, said Mark Sellner, a CPA and University of Minnesota tax law professor. A good accountant will help you avoid overpaying and — perhaps just as important — an audit.

“It’s hard to interpret the laws on your own,” Sellner said. “If -1/8small businesses-3/8 get good accounting and tax advice, it really does pay for itself.”

And in the event of an audit, your CPA will represent you. This should be spelled out in your engagement letter and there may be an extra charge.

CPAs also can help you determine your eligibility for these deductions and credits, but they don’t know your business as well as you do. For example, your CPA won’t necessarily know your new cashier is a military veteran, possibly qualifying you for a work opportunity tax credit.

However, Sellner points out that sometimes familiarity with a given credit or a deduction isn’t enough. Many small-business owners don’t pursue certain ones to avoid IRS scrutiny.

Sellner says business owners should not to be afraid to apply the credits and deductions for which they qualify. The best defense against an audit, he says, is careful record keeping.

Nick Woltman can be reached at 651-228-5189. Follow him on Twitter at @nickwoltman.

Are you a small business owner? Please feel free to add your own tips in the comments.


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