The Star Trek parody video produced by the Internal Revenue Service is going over like a lead balloon.
The video, which cost the taxpayer an estimated $60,000, prompted the agency to issue an apology. The six-minute video was released late Friday after requests from the US House of Representatives were initially rebuffed and CBS News subsequently filed a Freedom of Information application.
The video (see below) was made for an 2010 IRS training conference although it appears that it contains no training-related content. A video skit based on Gilligan’s Island that has yet to be released also was filmed at the same time.
The tacky, unfunny video shot on an elaborate set features IRS employees portraying Star Trek characters — including Mr. Spock — who are making a voyage to the planet “Notax” where noncompliance and alien identify theft are problems and its residents are suffering from the “tax-gap flu.” It was produced at the IRS television studio in Maryland, which itself reportedly cost the taxpayer about $4 million in 2012.
The release of the Star Trek parody video is ill-timed for the administration, given all the hand-wringing about the sequester-driven automatic federal budget cuts (which only amount to about two percent of government spending).
In a statement apologizing for the video, the IRS conceded that this kind of video would not be shot today. The IRS also indicated that it “recognizes and takes seriously our obligation to be good stewards of government resources and taxpayer dollars. There is no mistaking that this video did not reflect the best stewardship of resources.” The tax-collecting agency also claimed that it is has instituted new gatekeeping procedures to “ensure that all IRS videos are handled in a judicious manner that makes wise use of taxpayer funds while ensuring a tone and theme appropriate for the nation’s tax system.”
CBS: IRS spends $60k tax dollars making a Star Trek parody “training” video at the IRS television studios using IRS employees as actors…
— Sharyl Attkisson (@SharylAttkisson) March 22, 2013
Rep. Charles Boustany, chair of the House Ways and Means oversight subcommittee, said that “There is nothing more infuriating to a taxpayer than to find out the government is using their hard-earned dollars in a way that is frivolous,” and he has called for an audit to determine how much the agency spends on videos made at its production facility.
Do you think the IRS was beaming up too much taxpayer money to produce this Star Trek satire video for its conference?
Watch the IRS Star Trek parody video: