NEW YORK – Few truths are more universal: No one likes to pay taxes, and everyone loves to get things for free.
Restaurants and other retailers are offering freebies to reduce people's angst over their income taxes — which must be postmarked or e-filed by Thursday.
From cupcakes and pancakes to dinners and coffee, the offers are meant to help people feel better as they help companies drum up business. No paperwork or proof is required for most of the offers.
Ice cream chain MaggieMoo's is giving away pieces of its new ice cream pizza in its second annual tax day giveaway. The company won't say what it cost to give away thousands of free scoops of ice cream at its 160-plus stores in 2009, but a spokeswoman says such promotions bring in new guests and new sales.
"They'll have free ice cream and then they'll get a drink or a smoothie or something else or take home an ice cream pizza," says Jenn Johnston, senior vice president of marketing for NexCen Franchise Management, the parent company of MaggieMoo's, Pretzel Time, The Athlete's Foot and other chains.
Here are some of the freebies and discounts on offer for tax season 2010.
• FREE COFFEE AND TREATS
CINNABON: Get two free bite-sized cupcakes from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at participating mall locations as part of "Tax Day Bites!" Flavors include Chocolate Passion, 24-Carrot Cake, Vanilla Bliss and Cinnacake Classic.
MAGGIEMOO'S: Get one free slice of ice cream pizza — ice cream with red frosting to look like sauce and white chocolate to look like cheese — at participating locations from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday.
STARBUCKS: Get free brewed coffee all day Thursday if you bring your own mug, a promotion the cafe chain says is friendly to the environment as well as taxpayers.
• DISCOUNTED MEALS
BOSTON MARKET: For a "last-minute tax break" — one free meal for each one you buy Thursday through Sunday — show this coupon: http://bit.ly/d1YlRO
IHOP: Expanding on the tax deduction parents get for kids, the restaurant chain is offering free dinner for one child age 12 or younger with each adult meal purchased 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. all month long.
MCCORMICK & SCHMICK'S: The seafood restaurant is offering $10.40 dinner and drink specials in the bar on Thursday — a nod to the 1040 tax form. Bar guests who come in April 15 also receive a $10.40 gift certificate for a later visit. And professional tax preparers, who may have to work right until the midnight deadline Thursday, get their freebie Friday: dessert on the house plus a $10.40 certificate if they show a business card.
P.F. CHANG'S: Get 15 percent off food purchases for dine-in or take-out, excluding alcohol and happy hour food and beverages.
• STRESS RELIEF
HYDROMASSAGE: Get a free massage Thursday through Sunday at participating locations. The mall-based massage chain suggests calling ahead to book an appointment. Find a location at http://www.hydromassage.com/taxday.