IRS workers get dance lessons on taxpayers' dime
The beleaguered agency gets slammed again for stupid practices, such as wasting $50 million on employee conferences.
And yet again, the wasteful practices appear on video, showing a group of IRS employees practicing The Cupid Shuffle at a 2010 managers conference in Anaheim, Calif., that reportedly cost $4 million. The workers, including one woman who had a cast on her ankle, certainly tried to get into the spirit of the occasion. Earlier, the IRS took heat over an equally stupid Star Trek parody video.
According to an internal IRS watchdog, the tax agency spent about $50 million on more than 200 employee conferences from 2010 to 2012, which new IRS acting commissioner Danny Werfel denounced as inappropriate. That's an understatement.
Policy changes have led to an "87% drop in conference costs from fiscal 2010 to fiscal 2012," The Wall Street Journal says.
It's helpful to look at the bigger picture of why the IRS felt the need to waste money on "team-building" exercises like these videos.
Perhaps the agency's employees feel under siege. Under the best of times, working for the IRS won't win you many friends. Like many people, IRS employees haven't had raises in years, and like other government employees, they've had their share of furlough days.
Plus, as Pulitzer Prize-winning tax journalist David Cay Johnston recently noted, over the past decade, the agency's budget, adjusted for inflation and population growth, has plunged about 17%, while its workload has increased dramatically. Among its biggest challenges is dealing with the surge in requests from groups seeking tax-exempt status, which has deservedly gotten the agency into hot water for focusing particular scrutiny at conservative organizations making such requests.
What's especially disturbing about these videos is the planning that went into them. After all, they didn't produce themselves. Meetings were obviously held. Perhaps consultants were involved as well.
They're filled with inside jokes, and the "Star Trek" parody is chock-full of tax-related humor that perhaps only the most hardened of bureaucrats might find funny. Republicans, though, have found nothing humorous about these conferences, and neither should Democrats.
What gets lost in the media bashing of the IRS is how taxpayers are getting a raw deal from the agency. According to the National Taxpayer Advocate, which is an IRS office tasked with looking after the interests of consumers, the likelihood of people getting help with their tax questions from the agency is declining.
That's an issue the IRS might want to discuss before it starts another team-building event.
Follow Jonathan Berr on Twitter @jdberr.
I saw the film "line dancing" and one woman was wearing a walking cast while dancing. I started thinking and wondered if they were paid to do the film? Was the woman warring the cast on dis-
ability leave from work with either state industrial or administrative sick leave? So let me see if I
have it straight this woman could be receiving her regular salary, receiving state aide or even comp
from her employer the IRS by not being able to show up to her regular job. But it OK to show up and
do a film and get paid for the film. = Reg. salary plus state comp plus insurance sick pay plus earn-
ings from the film. All picked up by the Tax Payer. Now you know why we are 17 Trillion dollars in
debt. The GSA and the IRS are playing us for suckers! Abolish the IRS use Flat Tax and close down
the GSA and hire private firms to do our Accounting and hold them responsible not to give out any
unauthorized money for stupid wasteful expenditures.
The whole organization is a black eye to the USA, much like all of Washington. We are changing from the King of nations to the court Jester!
No more wasteful than a President who on a whim, flies to places like Africa etc "for the good of the nation" - cost of the trip? NO KIDDING - $100 MILLION !!
AND FOR THE RECORD TO SPEND $100,000,000.00 IN TAX MONEY FOR TRIP TO AFRICA
AN AMERICAN HAD TO CREATE $1,000,000,000.00 IN PRE TAX DOLLARS
IT TAKES ALMOST 8000 AMERICAN FAMILIES EARNING $75,000.00 TO PAY FOR THE ONE TRIP.
I wonder if a small house construction company used dance lesson and making star trek movies as a write off if that would work. What do you guys think? I bet that Lerner person would audit that company.
Add up the cost of any company private or public for all the conference calls, lunches brought in, certain folks taken out to lunch, parties, free tickets to events, etc, etc, etc. It adds up quite quickly. Private or public.
Heck, why won't your Born yesterday self talk about the many perks all the farce 501(c) types spend on themselves, all in the name of providing some bogus Public Service.
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