IRS Spent $49M on Employee Conferences

Saturday, 01 Jun 2013 05:28 PM

By Todd Beamon

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The Internal Revenue Service spent as much as $49 million on at least 220 employee conferences over three years beginning in fiscal 2010, according to an inspector general’s audit due out on Tuesday.

The audit was prepared by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which confirmed accusations that the IRS has targeted tea party, conservative and religious groups, The Washington Post reports.

The new audit comes as the Obama administration seeks to overhaul the IRS in light of the targeting scandal, which led to the ousting of the acting commissioner, the placing of another IRS manager on administrative leave, and investigations by the Justice Department and Congress.

In the audit, the Treasury’s inspector general estimates the costs of hundreds of IRS conferences, though investigators could not independently verify the final costs because the agency failed to keep records of all expenses, the Post reports.

One conference of particular interest was in August 2010 in Anaheim, Calif., for about 2,600 IRS workers in the small business and self-employed division, the Post reports.

The operation, based in Lanham, Md., outside Washington, assists small business owners with preparing their tax returns.

The conference cost about $4.1 million and was paid for in part with about $3.2 million in unused money from the IRS’ enforcement budget, the Post reports. Using those funds did not violate IRS guidelines, aides briefed on the audit told the Post.

In Anaheim, employees watched two training videos starring division employees that cost at least $60,000 to produce, the Post reports.

One parodied the “Star Trek” franchise, while the other showed about a dozen employees in a line dance.

Late on Friday, IRS Acting Commissioner Daniel Werfel acknowledged the report to the Post, saying in a statement that the spending was “an unfortunate vestige from a prior era.”

The IRS has significantly reduced conference spending in recent years, Werfel told the Post.


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