Tax agency faulted over spoof Star Trek video, spending

Tue Jun 4, 2013 1:57pm EDT
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By Kim Dixon and Kevin Drawbaugh

(Reuters) - A U.S. Government watchdog on Tuesday pointed to a spoof Star Trek video and use of luxury hotel rooms as examples of lavish spending by the Internal Revenue Service, adding to questions over the taxation agency's credibility after earlier accusations that it unfairly targeted conservative groups for scrutiny.

In a report that the IRS has already acknowledged as pointing out "inappropriate" spending, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration faulted the agency specifically for a 2010 conference in Anaheim, California, that cost $4.1 million.

Some of the funding for the conference came from unused funds originally intended for hiring enforcement employees, the head of the watchdog agency, J. Russell George, said in the report.

"Certain of the IRS's expenses associated with the Anaheim conference do not appear to be a good use of taxpayer funds," George said.

The IRS said in a statement that its spending for travel and training was down 80 percent since 2010 and there had been no conferences like the one in Anaheim for three years.

"Taxpayers should take comfort in knowing that these kinds of expenses are no longer permitted and such a conference would not take place today," it said.

The IRS said costs for large IRS conferences fell to $4.9 million in fiscal year 2012, from $37.6 million in 2010.

In the last month the IRS has had its top executive ousted by President Barack Obama and seen its reputation damaged after allegations that it targeted conservative political activists' applications for tax-exempt status for extra scrutiny.   Continued...