For those of you who have been waiting for holiday military discount weekends at home improvement stores wait no more.
Lowe's has expanded its 10 percent holiday discount to all day, every day, for active-duty, National Guard and reserve, retiree and disabled service members, and their families, company officials announced.
The Home Depot also now offers this 10-percent discount year-round, said spokeswoman Jean Niemi.
To get the discount, just show your valid military ID card.
All other military veterans will continue to receive the 10 percent discount on the holiday weekends of Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Veterans Day, just as they always have.
Both companies' discounts can be used in stores on purchases of up to $5,000, for a total discount of up to $500.
But whether you are in the market for a snowblower, paint, a new door or a lighting fixture, it still pays to do some homework and check out competitors' prices. Make sure you also check with your nearest military exchange store, or online exchange store, to see if it carries your item.
You might find that even with these discounts, a competitor offers a cheaper price. But this expanded discount certainly gives you more options to seek out the best deal.
Car tax deduction
The Internal Revenue Service is reminding taxpayers who bought a new car, light truck, motor home or motorcycle between Feb. 17, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2009, that they can deduct state and local sales and excise taxes on the purchase. In states that don't have a sales tax, the law provides a deduction for other taxes or fees.
The deduction is limited to taxes and fees paid on the purchase price, up to a maximum of $49,500.
It also is reduced or eliminated for joint filers with modified adjusted gross incomes above $250,000 and for other filers with modified adjusted gross income above $125,000.
Speaking of April 15 ...
As the deadline for filing taxes nears, make sure you take advantage of free help options.
One option: Check with your installation legal assistance office to find out about tax preparation services through the Military Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.
To find the nearest office, visit http://legalassistance.law.af.mil">http://legalassistance.law.af.mil and click on "Legal Services Locator." You can find contact information for legal offices at installations within the continental U.S. for all services, including the Coast Guard.
Those who are authorized to use Military OneSource can use the free H&R Block At Home online tax filing service. That includes active-duty, National Guard and reserve members and their families. You must visit www.militaryonesource.com not the public H&R Block Web site to use this service for free.
Military OneSource also has tax consultants available seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern time. Call toll-free 800-730-3802.
ArmedForcesEyewear.com, which recently joined the military exchanges' online mall, will open kiosks in a pilot program at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, on March 17.
Customers can have their photo taken, then "virtually" try on eyeglasses. At first, employees of the eyewear company will staff the kiosks, but eventually, some Army and Air Force Exchange Service employees also will be trained to help customers place their orders if needed. Contact lenses also can be ordered through the kiosks.
Live chats will be available on the computers for extra help, staffed from the ArmedForcesEyewear.com headquarters, spokeswoman Lauren Purcell said.
The pilot program will run at Goodfellow for at least 90 days, Purcell said, and will expand to other bases if it is successful.
AAFES has 146 optical outlets and 39 optometry clinics at locations around the world, exchange service spokesman Judd Anstey said. All are concession operations.
Goodfellow is one of 14 locations that have lost optical vendors in the last several years, Anstey said, and AAFES wants to ensure it can provide such services to exchange service patrons.
"The purpose is to serve as an optical store on base without someone carrying inventory or product right there," Purcell said.
Theoretically, if this concept works, it could be used in the Iraq and Afghanistan war zones, Anstey said.
Questions? Comments? E-mail staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=Question from ArmyTimes.com reader">Karen Jowers at email@example.com?subject=Consumer%20Watch:%20Lowes,%20Home%20Depot%20discounts%20now%20year-round">firstname.lastname@example.org.