Ah, the things we do for the craft of journalism. I was repulsed by the idea of watching IRS employees learn to dance to Cupid Shuffle. It was for you – the people – that I sacrificed two minutes and fifty-one seconds of my life. Great news (for you): it was worse than I imagined. Just picture cheesy scripted one-liners from awkward old people, then multiply your horrifying vision by 1000. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the IRS videos that cost $50,187.
When I first heard the news that the IRS was irresponsibly managing its (re: taxpayer) money, I was not surprised, but I was struck by the irony. This is the agency in charge of tracking your every last expense if you’re lucky enough to be audited; however, they did not even track all of their own expenses. The IRS could not provide sufficient documentation for several things, including the travel receipt for the speaker that was allegedly allotted $2,500 for first class travel.
Receipts they could produce, however, are just plain embarrassing. Employees were given IRS swag, if such a thing exists. There were 2,804 “brief bags” distributed at a total cost of approximately $15,669. The IRS paid $19,210 for “800 lanyards, 75 travel mugs, and 75 picture frames/clocks with the SB/SE Division logo, along with an unknown number of imprinted portfolios, sticky note pads, bookmarks, and retractable badge holders.” Additional promotional items, including “engraved pens/badge holders, give-away items from Oriental Trading, 16 promotional pens/printing poster/web cams, and imprinted can coolers/post-it notes” totaled approximately $27,000. Apparently logo imprinted picture frames are all the rage these days!
Possibly my favorite part of the report is the detailed explanation of one of their unique speakers. The speaker was paid $17,000 for two, one-hour speeches. Luckily though, we really got a bang for our buck. The speaker didn’t just speak. They painted portraits of Albert Einstein, Michael Jordan, Abraham Lincoln, Bono, and the Statue of Liberty. Hey – my boyfriend is an art major; maybe I can just look the other way if the government hires him for $8,500 an hour (psych). Unfortunately, they were so busy learning the Cupid Shuffle that they lost the final painting.
The problem with their spending is not just that it’s ridiculous. The problem is that it’s not their money. If this were the expense report of a private corporation, I’d question their business practices, but wouldn’t otherwise give it a second thought. I’m angry that some of my money could’ve been put toward two minutes and fifty-one seconds of my life spent in sheer horror.