IRS Agents Take A Fat Slice Of The Good Life

The greatly anticipated report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration on excessive IRS conference spending was released yesterday with the following statement: “Certain of the IRS’s expenses associated with the Anaheim conference do not appear to be a good use of taxpayer funds.” Perhaps it’s just merciful rhetoric, but it seems making videos of IRS agents doing the cupid shuffle that cost in excess of $50,000 should constitute more than a mere appearance of misuse. The TIGTA report states that, in total, the IRS has spent approximately $49 million on conferences in the years 2010-2012 - a whopping $37.5 million of that spending falling in 2010 alone.

The Conference in Anaheim, CA alone cost $4.1 million though the report states that the inspector has no “reasonable assurance” that this number is even accurate. Gifts and promotional prizes totaling $64,000 dollars were showered on the participants. Keynote speakers costing as much as $27,500 - with expensive props and first class airfare - took another $135,350, and even 45 local residents got to join the fun by racking up a $30,000 hotel tab instead of attending the conference from home.

In 2012, The Office of Management and Budget put a $500,000 limit on conference expenses and required all agencies to publicly report expenditures over $100,000. Even so, many taxpayers aren’t sure the worm is out of the apple. This, coupled with the revelation that the IRS has been targeting conservatives groups for their political beliefs, has taxpayers wary of the breadth of the IRS's power. Even worse, the IRS is scheduled to grow as it implements almost 50 separate parts of Obamacare. Should an agency that has used its clout to target and intimidate taxpayers be given expansive powers to administrate the President's takeover of the health care industry? We suggest it certainly should not. What do you think?

UPDATE: the IRS has confirmed it has placed staffers on administrative leave for accepting free gifts while attending a 2010 conference. The staffers work in the division tasked with implementing Obamacare. At least they don't have access to your health insurance information….yet.

 

TAGS: Spending, Transparency

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