IRS Spent $50 Million On Lavish Conferences

Congressman José Serrano from New York lamented the other day about how sequestration cuts to the IRS would inevitably lead to more scandals, because of a lack of well-funded “oversight.” So, what they need more of is money.

But, are we sure that the IRS would use that additional money to “oversee” itself and ensure all its employees are following closely to the law as well as its own rules and regulations? I think the IRS, as with any other government agency, would spend that money on lavish conferences. They wouldn’t have a real incentive to discipline themselves, because it’s not their money. It’s money they’ve extracted from others in the form of taxes.

A recent audit of the IRS produced a report by the Treasury inspector general for tax administration showing that the IRS spent nearly $50 million on conferences from 2010 to 2012:

“The audit found that the IRS held 225 conferences from fiscal years 2010 to 2012 at a cost of $49 million. The Anaheim conference, attended by 2,600 IRS employees, was the driving focus of the audit because it was the most costly during the three-year period of review. The IRS says it has changed spending practices to prevent a recurrence of these incidents.”

A very small part of that $50 million went to produce a lame Star Trek parody video as well as having about 15 IRS agents line dance on stage. Among other things, over $44,000 went to 2 speakers, one of whom was paid to create 6 paintings during his presentation. $64,000 worth of “numerous gifts/trinkets” went to IRS workers, and over $130,000 was paid out as commission to 2 event planners who, as the report stated, “had no incentive to negotiate a favorable room rate for the IRS.”

And why should they have an incentive? They’re living off the taxes they took from people. They crack down on “tax cheats,” as they did in their Star Trek production (which can be viewed here if you want to waste 5 minutes of your life), because they’re stealing from the government, and by extension, the poor and elderly. Well, what is the IRS doing? They’re wasting Americans’ hard-earned money on expensive conferences.

Lavish conferences aren’t unique to the IRS. Big events like those are commonplace across federal government agencies, because they have no reason to be careful with the money that’s been budgeted to them. It’s a natural consequence of believing that the government needs to be massive and involved in every area of life.