Tax time doesn't have to be a drag

Just look at the word reFUNd

Just look at the word reFUNd

April 11, 2005|by JULIE E. GREENE

Income tax forms must be mailed by Friday, April 15. If that's good news in the form of a refund, we have some materialistic ideas to share.

We're not saying you should shirk responsibility, but, if you don't have overwhelming debt or outstanding payments, take a moment to think of more enjoyable ways to use your dineros.

In Maryland, the average federal and state tax refund as of this past week was $3,001, according to the Internal Revenue Service and Comptroller of Maryland's office.


Perhaps you didn't get quite that much back from Uncle Sam and Uncle Schaefer - Maryland State Comptroller William Donald Schaefer. Don't let that stop you from fantasizing about how you would spend that $1,000 or $2,000 refund if you weren't the responsible, disciplined adult you are.

Here are some suggestions to help your spending or your daydreaming get started.

For the $1,000 set:

· Buy something for the whole family.

Forget the cheesy trash bin basketball backboard, and splurge on the Goalrilla III basketball system on sale for $999.98 this past week at Dick's Sporting Goods.

Made by Escalade Sports, the unit gets bolted into your driveway. It has a 54-inch clear acrylic backboard that is adjustable from 7 1/2 feet to 10 feet high.

The basketball costs extra.

· Or buy something for yourself.

The two-tone 50th anniversary Stratocaster with tweed case was on sale for $975 at Carpenter's World of Music on York Road off Halfway Boulevard, said owner Ken Carpenter.

· Buy a different kind of classy.

An 18-karat yellow and white gold necklace and bracelet set by designer Roberto Coin was available at R. Bruce Carson Jewelers for $1,000.

For the $2,000 spenders:

· Two grand will get you two wheels.

A sporty black 2005 Honda Ruckus scooter costs $1,999, according to The scooter has a 49cc liquid-cooled, single-cylinder four-stroke engine with an automatic V-Matic belt drive.

For an extra $50, you can get the snazzy silver camo color.

· Indulge in surround sound.

Cave in and buy that surround system you've always wanted.

A Bose surround system with an Onkyo receiver would have cost you $1,800 before taxes at the local Circuit City this past week. That gives you $110 after taxes to buy music - perhaps Gangster Funk's "Tax Free."

The Bose system comes with five double cube speakers, so the two cubes in each speaker can face different directions to optimize the surround effect.

The system also includes an Acoustimass subwoofer with three 5.25-inch woofers, said Robert J. McAlesher, certified sales counselor with Circuit City.

The $500 receiver has 595 watts, so crank up the volume.

· Weber says you might wonder if your patio is worthy.

We just ask that you be careful and invite us over when you try out the Weber 2005 Summit Platinum D6 Propane Grill on sale at for $1,999.

This propane grill has six stainless steel burners with 902 square inches of cooking area. Features include a 9,600 BTU-per-hour input rear-mounted infrared rotisserie burner and a stainless steel smoker box with an 8,000 BTU-per-hour input dedicated stainless steel smoker burner, according to

We're not sure what all that BTU means, but our interpretation is rotisserie chicken and smoked ribs.

Ideas for spending $2,000

· Go fishing with your friends - a lot of them.

You and 79 fishing buddies get to spend half a day 10 to 12 miles off the coast fishing for sea bass, tautog, croaker and trout on the 70-foot-or-so Judith M. She comes with her own liquor license so there will be drinks onboard. Mates can assist you and your guests if they are novice fishermen and fisherwomen. The trip includes bait, tackle, rods and reels.

The $2,952 price tag, good during spring, includes taxes and gratuity for the service provided by Bahia Marina in Ocean City, Md., said Denise Luckenbaugh, manager of the tackle shop.

· Grab the ring.

Ladies, treat yourself to a ruby and diamond checkerboard design on an 18-karat yellow gold ring. The total gem weight is 2.14 carats, said Penny Thompson with R. Bruce Carson Jewelers at Public Square in Hagerstown. The ring was available last week for $3,000, not including taxes.

· Try this if size matters for your TV.

Prepare for Super Bowl XXXX now. Buy a Sony 55-inch, high-definition projection television with liquid crystal display. The television was highly-rated by customers at on the Web and was on sale this past week in the Hagerstown store for $2,999.99.

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