The head of an IRS division criticized for overspending on an educational conference in 2010 apologized to a House committee for the "embarrassing" amount of money spent on training videos, including one of IRS employees dressed up as "Star Trek" characters.
Faris Fink, commissioner of the IRS’s small business and self-employed division, testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about the 2010 conference in Anaheim, Calif. The purpose, he said, was to train more than 2,500 managers from around the country.
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The video spoof, which opened and closed the conference, was an attempt to add humor to the event, said Fink, who was dressed up as Spock, pointy ears and all. The video apparently cost more than $50,000 to make.
CNS News reported that Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said the "Star Trek" video was an insult to the popular television series.
“I could do a better Captain Kirk
,” she said.
Fink’s tax conference is one of several under scrutiny for costing too much money. The IRS spent $4.1 million on the Anaheim event, which covered a top hotel, keynote speakers, the embarrassing video and $64,000 on giveaways. All in all, the IRS is reported to have spent more than $49 million on conferences between 2010 and 2012. Two IRS employees have been suspended for their parts in conference spending.
Along with iffy spending decisions, the committee is investigating whether the IRS mishandled reporting of tax issues surrounding that conference. The Wall Street Journal reported that House committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) pointed out that the IRS reportedly failed to file W-2 forms for employees in the Anaheim area who attended the conference and who would have been responsible for paying taxes on the food and other benefits provided.
The IRS is under attack for wasteful spending just a short time after the agency was criticized – and the acting head Steven Learner fired – for targeting Tea Party groups for scrutiny
. Those issues are still under investigation.
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