Free Tax Day E-Cards

Thoughtful people can find free holiday greeting cards for all kinds of occasions on a variety of internet websites. Personalized cards can be customized, with both graphics and music, to celebrate more events than one might imagine who hasn't visited one of these sites recently. It seems that every month hosts multiple card-sending occasions. Besides honoring traditional events, such as Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, new holidays celebrate special days for fathers-in-law, teachers, nurses, and other relatives and occupations. For that date that strikes dread in many a taxpayer's heart, April 15, free tax day e-cards brighten up the gloomiest, most harried procrastinator still struggling to meet the Internal Revenue Service's midnight deadline. It's a lot of fun both to send and receive free holiday gift cards no matter the occasion. With so many selections to choose from, the sender can find the perfect card for each person in her address book. Major greeting card companies and smaller niche companies offer a lot of choices for free holiday greeting cards on their websites. Some sites offer features that allow customers to set reminder notices so there will never be an excuse, nor a need, to send a belated birthday card again. The truly organized, the person who doesn't put off filling out her income tax returns until 11:59 p.m. on the deadline date, can gloat by sending free tax day e-cards to her less organized family and friends.

Congress first passed the Revenue Act of 1861 to levy a three percent tax on incomes greater than $1,800 to help with the federal government's expenses for the Civil War. Even before the Revenue Act went into effect, in 1862, Congress made reforms that set separate tax rates on a two-tier income schedule. The Revenue Act was repealed in 1972, but Congress passed income tax legislation again in 1894. Only a year later, the United States Supreme Court declared that the legislation was unconstitutional. Not to be deterred from their effort to get more money from the citizenry, Congress proposed an amendment to the United States Constitution on July 2, 1909. Less than four years later, only one more state needed to ratify the proposal for the 16th Amendment to be added to the Constitution. The Wyoming legislature ratified the amendment on February 3, 1913. Requiring a one percent tax on incomes over $1,300 and a six-percent surtax on incomes greater than $500,000, the 16th Amendment affected less than one percent of the population at that time. The first filing deadline was March 1, but this was moved to March 18 in 1918. In 1955, the filing deadline was moved again to April 15. When the date falls on a Saturday, the deadline is extended until the following Monday. However, when April 15 falls on a Sunday, the deadline is extended until April 17. This is because April 16 is Emancipation Day, a holiday celebrated in Washington, D.C. Though Emancipation Day is not a federal holiday, it affects the federal agencies in the capitol city and changes the deadline. These exceptions change the date for emailing free tax day e-cards to one's family and friends.

Taxpayers might be able to find free holiday greeting cards to celebrate Tax Freedom Day. According to a national nonpartisan taxation educational organization founded in 1937, Tax Freedom Day marks the date that the country's annual tax burden has been met. For this year, that date was calculated as being April 23, 2008, three days earlier than in 2007. Credit for the earlier date is attributed to the 2008 economic stimulus rebates that taxpayers are receiving in bank accounts and mailboxes. Taxpayers are paying an average of 30.8% of their income in taxes in 2008. In comparison, Tax Freedom Day was on January 22 in the year 1900 and the percentage of income that went to taxes that year was only 5.9%. A hundred years has made quite a difference in how much income goes to the government. Taxpayers may not enjoy handing over hard-earned money to the government, but Christians know that laws need to be obeyed. The Jewish tax collector who became an apostle told about a time when Jesus' enemies tried to trick Him with sly questions into saying something unlawful about the Roman government. They said: "Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's. When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way" (Matthew 22:16-22).

Most of the free tax day e-cards are funny, poking fun at the Internal Revenue Service, the hundreds of pages of the agency's tax code, and the harried procrastinator racing to meet the deadline. Like many other free holiday greeting cards, the sender can choose from a large variety of cards with animation and music. Personal messages can be added before the card is sent to one or more recipients. Whatever the occasion, no matter the time of day or night, free holiday greeting cards can be sent to anyone with an email address. Just a few clicks of a mouse will let recipients know that someone was thinking of them.

Custom Gift Cards

The popularity of plastic gift cards continues to grow as more companies offer them and as consumers become more comfortable using them. A company's cards basically come in two types. One type is the loyalty or membership card that is shown at the time of purchase at any of that company's locations. Membership provides one of two benefits: 1) depending on the dollar amount of the purchase, the consumer receives points to redeem for a variety of offered amenities; and 2) the consumer receives discounts on the purchase. For example, grocery stores often give reduced pricing on certain items for cardholders. The bar code on the card can be scanned at a cash register. These are often small rectangles that have a hole punched in one end that can be inserted on a keychain, making it easier for customers to keep track of them.

The other type of custom gift cards is used by the consumer as a gift certificate to make purchases. Consumers appreciate ones that are the same shape and size as credit and debit cards because they fit easily in one's wallet and are more durable than a paper certificate. Instead of a bar code, the card has a magnetized stripe on the back where information, such as the monetary value, is embedded. Both businesses and consumers benefit from using both types of the plastic gift cards.

As stated earlier, consumers benefit from membership and loyalty programs by receiving points that can be exchanged for prizes or by receiving discounts on purchases without bothering to cut out coupons. The business's sales clerk scans the barcode which is linked to that customer's purchases. This information is stored in a database that tracks the purchases. Because consumers provide demographic information when applying for the membership program, analysts can use specialized computer programs to correlate demographics and purchases. This important information helps businesses to know what products are popular with various consumer demographics and can help in the making of both marketing and stocking decisions. In essence, the customer gives up privacy regarding her purchasing decisions in exchange for the discounts or points.

Businesses also benefit from offering custom gift cards to customers because of the revenue that is generated. Consumers are more likely to shop at stores where they have signed up for membership or loyalty programs. Given a choice between two similar stores, the consumer will go to the one where he will receive either points toward a coveted prize or discounts on his purchases. Companies also like the plastic gift cards that are used like gift certificates for several reasons. People who receive them come into the store and often spend more than the value of the card, generating additional revenue for the business. Even better, the full value often goes unredeemed, either because the card gets lost, forgotten, or has an expiration date. The difference between the value and the amount redeemed is pure profit for the business. Additionally, the plastic gift cards are incredibly cheap to create, yet serve as pocket-sized marketing tools. Companies can choose the designs so they obviously include their logos on what amount to small billboards. Jesus once told a parable that included these words: "For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?" (Luke 14:28). Though Jesus' spiritual lesson was that a person should count the cost of discipleship, the verse also has significant business application. A business must consider its costs to ensure that a profit is made. Even though the business pays a small fee to vendors both to create the card and again when it is activated, their return on the investment is worth the cost.

At one time, custom gift cards could only be purchased at the store offering them. As they've gained in popularity, their points of sale have also increased. Many discount and drugstore chains offer a variety of restaurant, video rental, and specialty store cards that consumers can purchase. According to statistics obtained by a national retail association, buyers spent over $26 billion on gift cards during the 2007 holiday season, up from almost $25 billion in 2006. On average, men spent more than women, perhaps finding it easier to let their ladies pick out the presents they wanted rather than running the risk of having to stand in line at the return counter. More cards are bought and redeemed during the holiday season than any other time of the year.

Where there are benefits, there are usually drawbacks, and the business of plastic gift cards is no exception. Some consumer activists speak out against the membership and loyalty programs because of the personal information that members are required to provide in exchange for a program's benefits. Their position is that the benefits are not worth selling one's privacy. They also warn consumers to pay attention to the policies regarding custom gift cards. Sometimes a surcharge will be added to the balance left on a card after a specified time period, often after six months, or there may be an expiration date. In addition, if a company goes out of business, the consumer is probably left with a worthless miniature billboard. Buyers should also find out a company's policies in case the card is lost or the magnetic stripe becomes demagnetized. Some states are addressing concerns about surcharges and expiration dates by passing legislation to protect consumers.

Businesses appreciate the demographic information obtained through membership and loyalty programs and the increased revenue received, at a relatively low expense, from offering these miniature billboards. Despite their drawbacks, enough consumers appreciate the benefits of custom gift cards that they are almost certainly here to stay.

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