The Origins of Scrooge

 

Every year around this time, thousands of people pull A Christmas Carol off their shelf, dust off the cover, and sit down to read. And why not? After all, it’s the Christmas classic upon which all other Christmas classics stand.

As you know, A Christmas Carol is the delightful and touching story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserable old miser who undergoes an incredible transformation. It’s a timeless story … and it’s also the source of many of our most cherished holiday traditions.

We, at DataView Tax Service, Inc., hope the following makes your Christmas that much better!!
 


Dickens Saves Christmas

 

Have you ever wondered where we get our Christmas traditions? Why do we put up a tree? Why do we sing Christmas carols? Why do we give gifts? Most of these answers lay in one of the most popular books of all time, A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.

Most people aren’t aware that Christmas, as we know it, was once almost extinct. For a period of about 15 years, from 1645 to 1660, the Puritans successfully passed laws that literally banned Christmas in England. Mince pies, mistletoe, holly, and other Christmas staples were outlawed, along with Christmas caroling and public celebrations. This sentiment extended across the Atlantic as well. Many of our country’s first settlements frowned upon excessive celebration at any time of year, and especially at Christmas. Celebrations returned in England after the ban was lifted, but the excitement surrounding the holiday had declined.

For the next century the holiday’s popularity steadily decreased. By the 1800s only the wealthiest still celebrated Christmas. Most people were simply not able to celebrate. The world was in the beginning of the industrial revolution, workers worked long hours for low pay, and since most employers wouldn’t sacrifice a day of work, people just didn’t have time. Additionally, the overall cost of hosting a celebration full of feasting and gift giving was just too expensive. More and more frequently, the only jobs to be found were in the cities. Many people left their traditional country lifestyles and flocked to the cities, leaving many of their traditions behind.

It’s not hard to see where Dickens got the inspiration for Ebenezer Scrooge and Bob Cratchit.

In October, 1843, Charles Dickens was visiting his sister in Manchester. Dickens was touched by the spirit and enthusiasm of his sickly nephew, who is presumed to be the inspiration for Tiny Tim. Dickens was struck with the idea for the story and almost immediately went to work. He wrote at a feverish pace and finished the entire story in six weeks. Three weeks later, on December 19, the book was published. The book was an instant success. All 6,000 copies of the original printing were sold in four days. Within six weeks, the story had been adapted for the stage and shows were already in progress. The show ran consecutively for over forty nights before transferring to New York’s Park Theater. By May, 1844, the seventh edition of the book had already sold out.

The story was both a literary and a social success. It’s credited with playing a major role in reviving (and reinventing) the Christmas holiday. WithoutA Christmas Carol, we wouldn’t have the phrases “Bah! Humbug!” or even “Scrooge.” Dickens took outdated Christmas traditions and infused them into his tale, making them feel as if they had always been a part of our Christmas traditions. For example, caroling was not common at the time, but Dickens added this activity to the story as if it were common to meet a traveling choir during the holiday season. It wasn’t.

While less obvious, but perhaps more significant, Dickens’ portrayal of a Christmas celebration was vastly different from the norm of his time. Typical celebrations during the era were normally community celebrations in churches, taverns, and town halls. Dickens’ representation was much different. He shows the Cratchits gathered together, celebrating as a family. This is perhaps the single biggest change that Dickens had on Christmas traditions, turning the holiday into a small, intimate, and private family affair. This change allowed for every family to celebrate according to their means. If they were wealthy, they could hold a feast. If they were poor, they could gather together, sing songs, and share stories, while enjoying the holiday in accordance with their means.

It’s probably incomprehensible for most of us to think that the holiday we know and love almost became a footnote in the history books. Were it not for the influence of Charles Dickens, our celebrations might be vastly different, if they existed at all. For me, and I expect many of you, Christmas is my favorite time of year, and I can’t imagine my life without it.

God bless us, everyone.


From all of us here at DataView Tax Service, Inc., we wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season. I hope you enjoyed this look at the origin of many of our most popular traditions—and maybe now you’ll see A Christmas Carol in a whole new light.  

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IRS Phone Scams Continue to be a Serious

Threat for the 2016 Filing Season

 

"The IRS continues working to warn taxpayers about phone scams and other schemes," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "We especially want to thank the law-enforcement community, tax professionals, consumer advocates, the states, other government agencies and particularly the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration for helping us in this battle against these persistent phone scams."

Protect Yourself

 

Scammers make unsolicited calls claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They con the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls,” or via a phishing email.

Many phone scams use threats to intimidate and bully a victim into paying. They may even threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the license of their victim if they don’t get the money.

Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.

Here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam.

The IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:

If you don’t owe taxes, or have no reason to think that you do:

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.

If you know you owe, or think you may owe tax:

  • Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you.

Stay alert to scams that use the IRS as a lure. Tax scams can happen any time of year, not just at tax time. For more, visit “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” on IRS.gov.

Who Can Represent You Before the IRS?

 

Many people use a tax professional to prepare their taxes. Tax professionals with an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) can prepare a return for a fee. If you choose a tax pro, you should know who can represent you before the IRS. There are new rules this year, so the IRS wants you to know who can represent you and when they can represent you. Choose a tax return preparer wisely.

Representation rights, also known as practice rights, fall into two categories:

  • Unlimited Representation
  • Limited Representation

Unlimited representation rights allow a credentialed tax practitioner to represent you before the IRS on any tax matter. This is true no matter who prepared your return. Credentialed tax professionals who have unlimited representation rights include:

  • Enrolled agents
  • Certified Public Accountants
  • Attorneys

Terry Sustar, President of DataView Tax Service, Inc.,  is an Enrolled Agent, a credentialed tax practitioner with Unlimited Representation rights to represent you before the IRS.

 

Limited representation rights authorize the tax professional to represent you if, and only if, they prepared and signed the return. They can do this only before IRS revenue agents, customer service representatives and similar IRS employees. They cannot represent clients whose returns they did not prepare. They cannot represent clients regarding appeals or collection issues even if they did prepare the return in question.

 

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