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You owe yourself today

Ellen Warren

Shopping Adviser

April 15, 2010

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Hooray, it's Income Tax Day! How will you celebrate?

What, you say you're not in a partying mood? Gee, what a surprise.

Let's see, is there any upbeat news on the tax front? Well, roughly three out of four of us get a refund from the feds. If you're like me, that's not making you feel all tingly and happy inside. It is, after all, our own money we're getting back.

As for the tens of millions of us who have to write a check to Uncle Sam — the average amount was nearly $4,600 in 2008 — it's hard to come up with anything remotely positive to say. "I thought I owed more than that," does not qualify.

The only good thing I can say about April 15 is that it's my dog's birthday. That's pretty pathetic.

If you're getting money back from the government, you don't have to think for a moment about what to do with it. Most of it is already committed, I'm sure. And if you're stuck owing some cash, it may be small comfort, but there are a lot of us in that bad place.

To try to encourage you to celebrate your refund or to ease the misery of having to pay, I went shopping at five of my favorite locally owned small shops for little Tax Day splurges — all less than $100 — to perk you up.

Some of the items shown are by Chicago artists. So, if you're hesitating to treat yourself, think of it as doing your small part to help the ailing local economy. It's patriotic.

shopellen@tribune.com

Resources
Pump, 1659 W. Division St., 773-384-6750,
pumpshoeschicago.com
Habit, 1951 W. Division St., 773-342-0093, habitchicago.com
Hazel, 1902 W. Montrose Ave., 773-769-2227, hazelchicago.com
Erin Gallagher, 1013 W. Webster Ave., 312-492-7548, egjewelry.com
P.O.S.H., 613 N. State St., 312-280-1602, poshchicago.com
Federal
income tax facts*
Total returns filed:
142,978,806
Returns with refunds:
111,749,004
Percentage of returns with refunds:
78.16 percent
Average refund per return:
$2,836.04
Returns with taxes due:
20.03 percent
Average tax due per return:
$4,566.76
*Based on Internal Revenue Service sampling figures for returns filed in 2008
.
Your tattered, precious clothes
Can't bear to throw out your beat-up beloved favorites? Those worn-out jeans? A baseball cap? A shredded sweater? Tell me your stories. Even send a photo! I want to know about the things you can't part with and why. E-mail me at
shopellen@tribune.com
.
Lindsey Boland's Habit boutique is filled with clothing and accessories by young designers. Sometimes she stocks works on paper. These note cards are by Art Institute of Chicago grad Emily Woodworth. The wooden pen by Chicagoan Rob Curtis will make writing that IRS check a bit easier.
Rob Curtis
pen, $65
, Hazel
Emily Woodworth note cards, $20
for 8
, Habit
You can run, but even in this enormous sun hat you won't be able to hide from the tax man. But you'll be ultra glam on your trip to the federal slammer.
San Diego Hat Co.
, sun-blocking paper fiber, $39
, Pump
New shoes are a traditional female mood enhancer. Pump has the funnest of fanciful footwear at reasonable prices. Owner Maureen Longua's expert advice and selection of accessories will cheer you up too.
Charles by Charles David
, $95
, Pump
Your last buck might be heading to Washington to pay for some congressman's federally funded Cadillac health plan, but you'll still be able to carry your bus fare in this classy leather wallet by My Walit. Hazel owner David Vail's little shop is a one-stop present palace.
My Walit
, $48
, Hazel
Jewelry designer Erin Gallagher's "money" necklace (that's Queen Elizabeth II on the coins) is a fitting tribute to the government gouge. Matching earrings and more can be found at her new location.
Erin Gallagher necklace, $77
, Erin Gallagher
Drinking your troubles away, or trying to, is never the best strategy. But a little bubbly sipped from these vintage champagne coupes could brighten your gray day. P.O.S.H. owner Karl Sorensen travels the world for his finds.
Vintage champagne glasses, $15
each, P.O.S.H.