IRS “Can’t Find Receipts’ For $4 Million Conference

Robert Jonathan - Author

Jun. 17 2013, Updated 1:32 a.m. ET

The IRS was apparently guilty of some sketchy recordkeeping in determining the complete cost of a $4 million employee conference held in Anaheim, Calif.

Evidently no one had a shoebox to keep all the paperwork.

This infamous conference paid for by the American people, which included a lameStar Trek parody video and a line-dancing video, was the subject of a Treasury Department Inspector General audit into excessive government spending that was released this week.

The IRS spent $50 million on conferences over a couple of years, but it turns out that the price tag for this one may have been higher than reported.

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The Inspector General’s 63-page report explained in part, “While IRS management provided documentation showing the total final costs at $4.1 million, we could not obtain reasonable assurance that this amount represents a full and accurate accounting of the conference costs. The IRS was unable to provide documentation to support all costs associated with the conference … As a result, we cannot validate that the ‘final’ conference cost of $4.1 million reported by the IRS.”

The agency claims it has now clamped on on wasteful spending but that was not the case previously: “At the time the Anaheim conference was planned and conducted, the IRS did not have any guidelines requiring management to track and report the actual costs incurred for conferences.”

The IRS also handed out a lot of swag at the 2010 Anaheim conference: “The report found IRS officials paid thousands of dollars to pay motivational speakers, who were flown to the conference on the taxpayer dime, sometimes in first class. It also found the IRS doled out gifts and promotional items worth over $64,000. All told, 2,609 IRS executives and managers attended the conference, meaning the $4.1 million price tag works out to over $1,500 per attendee.”

The Inspector General previously issued a report that concluded that the IRS used inappropriate criteria to screen Tea Party and other politically conservative groups when they applied for nonprofit status. No similar widespread scrutiny was applied to any left-of-center groups who applied for the same tax status. In the video clip below, Anderson Cooper raised an interesting point: “[The IRS is] spending all this money at the same time they’re saying they didn’t have enough people to process those Tea Party tax exempt applications.” That being said, the allegation that the agency’s workload experienced an increase owing to 401(c)(4) applications is also in dispute.

What do you think would happen if an ordinary, busy taxpayer told the IRS that he or she couldn’t find important receipts?


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