“Partisan emotions are running high this election year, but one thing unites us: We all hate paying taxes,” Bloomberg’s Suzanne Woolley and Ben Steverman remind us as the yearly ritual of gathering receipts and crying over lost deductions hits fever pitch. So, as just one more diversion from the unpleasant task of crunching numbers, they offer a slide show of Hollywood’s Top 10 depictions of the “bloodless bureaucrats who range from the socially awkward to the positively demonic.”
Their rundown includes such memorable lines as this from chief prison guard Byron Hadley in Shawshank Redemption: “Uncle Sam puts his hand in your shirt and squeezes your tit till it’s purple,”
So, with all of us celebrating a common sentiment, let’s roll out the marketing cannons right?
“Move over, Valentine’s Day, July 4th and Halloween: The deadline for Americans to pay their taxes is emerging as another opportunity for restaurants to drive traffic with themed deals and promotions,” writes Nation’s Restaurant News’ Lisa Jennings.
Jennings runs down deals at national chains such as Chili’s, Arby’s, White Castle, P.F. Chang’s and Seattle’s Best Coffee. As an example, Sonic Drive-In is offering happy hour deals all day Tuesday, inviting customers to “take their first deductions of the year” with half-priced fountain drinks and slushes.
“People work hard to get their taxes filed and Sonic’s Happy Hour All Day on tax day is a great way to reward our hard-working customers at the conclusion of tax season,” says Sonic CMO James O’Reilly. “Tax day is a unique time to experiment with flavor possibilities and find the perfect drink.” (While your head is awash in numbers, there are, in fact, an estimated 398,929 possible customized drink blend combinations.)
RoadFish.com, which describes itself as “an online men’s lifestyle and finance magazine targeted toward men in their 30’s and 40’s that have already attained a moderate level of success in life, and are striving toward more,” is encouraging its readers “to take advantage of the long list of freebies and discounted food and drink offered at businesses around the country,” according to a press release reprinted on SFgate.com, the online home of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Why are Tax Day promotions limited so specifically to restaurants? Is there some psychological connection between food and the feeling or being gouged after all that mental toil and angst — even though most people get refunds?
That’s 77% of us last year, according to the Internal Revenue Service, with the average refund about $3,100. Still, Americans will pay 29.2% of their income to federal, state and local taxes this year, according to Will McBride, an economist with the nonpartisan Tax Foundation who is quoted by NPR. “And that means Americans must work 107 days to cover their 2012 tax burden — up until April 17.”
No wonder we’re in knots. Here’s something those of us who may think that two free Cinnabon Bites wouldn’t be particularly helpful to our calorie counts might be more inclined to go for: a free HydroMassage. It purportedly provides “all the benefits” of a regular massage “without a stranger touching you.” And you can surf the Internet at the same time!
You may be wondering why Tax Day is on the 17th this year. Sure, you understand that the 15th is a Sunday and no one does commerce on Sunday, right? But why not the 16th? Because it’s Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia.
Taxes, meanwhile, are taking a prominent role in the Marketing of the President, 2012.
Vice President Joe Biden last week “slammed [candidate Mitt] Romney at a campaign stop in New Hampshire for promoting a “Romney Rule” on taxes that would benefit only millionaires like him -– a harsh comparison to the ‘Buffett Rule’ Democrats are promoting,” reports CNN’s Jim Acosta and Paul Steinhauser and CNNMoney’s Jeanne Sahadi.
Republicans, meanwhile, are pushing a tax reform plan that they claim “discards a needlessly complex and manipulative tax code, replacing it with a simplified mechanism that promotes work, saving, and investment.”
Finally, a town in upstate New York is “bracing for a fight after its largest private taxpayer — the group behind the car-donation program Kars 4 Kids — applied to be exempted from real-estate taxes on the grounds it is a charity,” according to James Campbell in the Wall Street Journal.
Kars 4 Kids is notable as a 21st Century proponent of the largely discredited “Ring Around the Collar” School of Advertising, which holds that the more annoying you are, the more memorable you may be. Perhaps you’ve been marketing ranch widgets in Wyoming and haven’t yet heard the jingle, which is said to have a “unique tempo and country twang.” Sorry for that but look at it this way: any diversion beats filling out tax forms.