Eat for Free on Tax Day

Is there any better flavor than the taste of free?

Everyone loves a bargain, but free is a whole other animal. Zero is not just another price. It’s an emotional hot button— push it, and we are irrationally, deliriously happy.

People will go to extremes when free dining is in the offing. Witness the tent cities that sprout in the parking lot of every new Chick-fil-A or Krispy Kreme with folks willing to camp out for days to be among the first customers in the door, earning them a year of free chicken sandwiches or donuts. Others will endure gut-busting restaurant challenges like a 40 ounce porterhouse or a pizza the size of Volkswagen that’s free if you can finish it.

In recent years, Tax Day has been the big daddy of free food days. So many national chains have hosted tax relief giveaways that you could eat all day without ever cracking open your wallet. Maybe it’s a sign of the challenging economic times, but this year’s Tax Day is notable for the number of restaurants that offered freebies in the past that are sitting this one out. Some of them are offering Tax Day discounts and pricing—lots of $10.40 meals out there—but barring any 11th hour announcements, this year you will not be drinking free coffee at Starbucks or smoothies at Jamba Juice; you’ll pay full price at Dunkin’ Donuts and IHOP; and a Subway sandwich will run you the usual five bucks. Cinnabon (Cinnabon Bites) and Maggie Moo’s (mini ice cream sundae) are running the only truly free (not buy one get one or free with purchase) Tax Day promotions we could find.

Just remember that if it’s valued at more than $600, even free food can be taxed. A year of free donuts or Chick-fil-A is treated as taxable income. Next Tax Day, those grand opening winners will find themselves on the hook to the IRS.


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