Report: IRS Spent Nearly $100 Million on Office Furniture

Monday, 12 May 2014 02:34 PM

By John A. Oswald

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The IRS says it doesn't have enough money to properly serve taxpayers, but it has no problem spending nearly $100 million on new office furniture.

The Washington Free Beacon reports a review of five years of purchases found the embattled agency spent $96.5 million buying new chairs, showcases, partitions and shelving, and wood furniture for fixing IRS offices around the country.

That includes: $5 million for the Lowell, Mass., office; $2.8 million in Philadelphia; and $1 million in Iowa. And some high-end companies are among the contractors, reports the Free Beacon, including Herman Miller, which sells $1,200 chairs.

The Free Beacon writes that the $96.5 million exceeds the $64.4 million spent in the eight years President George W. Bush served as president.

News of the spending comes just two weeks after Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew told lawmakers his agency needs a whopping 7 percent hike in its budget, from $11.29 billion to $12.48 billion in the next fiscal year.

The IRS, he said, doesn't have enough to do right by the American people.

"While the IRS is working hard to provide the highest possible level of taxpayer service within its limited resources, its funding situation is causing taxpayers to face longer wait times on the phone, and it is taking longer to respond to taxpayer correspondence.

"A sustained deterioration in taxpayer service combined with reduced enforcement activity could create serious long-term risk for the U.S. tax system, which is based on voluntary compliance," he testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government.

National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson reported in January that some 20 million calls to the IRS went unanswered last fiscal year.

The IRS has repeatedly come under fire for questionable spending.

Last June, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held hearings after revealing the agency spent about $50 million on 220 conferences for employees from 2010 to 2012.

In one case, the IRS spent $4 million for an Anaheim, Calif., conference in 2010, where some stayed in rooms costing $1,500 to $3,500 a night, and $135,000 was paid to outside speakers, including $17,000 for a lecture on "leadership through art."

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