You owe yourself today

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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.

Pump, 1659 W. Division St., 773-384-6750,
Habit, 1951 W. Division St., 773-342-0093,
Hazel, 1902 W. Montrose Ave., 773-769-2227,
Erin Gallagher, 1013 W. Webster Ave., 312-492-7548,
P.O.S.H., 613 N. State St., 312-280-1602,
income tax facts*
Total returns filed:
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