The Internal Revenue Service has come under heat recently for questions over spending, particularly as it faces budgetary shortfalls and sequestration cuts that may impact its ability to detect, investigate, and prosecute potential tax law violations.
Most recently, the preliminary findings of a report conducted by the Treasury Department's inspector general reveals the agency spent roughly $50 million to hold at least 220 conferences for employees between 2010 and 2012. The agency has come under fire for several unrelated incidents as of late, all of which led to the resignation of the agency's acting commissioner, Steven Miller. In light of the new spending report, new acting commissioner Daniel Werfel is seeking to distance the agency from the previous administration's spending mistakes.
Some analysts questioned the use of certain funds for IRS employee conferences, specifically one held in Anaheim, California, in 2010. The conference, which brought together more than 2,600 IRS officials, came with a price tag of $4.1 million. However, $3.2 million of these funds came from the agency's unused enforcement budget, a move that IRS aides said does not violate the agency's guidelines, the Washington Post reports. At issue, however, are allegations that the agency failed to follow standard government practices of negotiating lower hotel rates and also provided workers with costly perks, such as stays in top hotel suites and tickets to sporting events, according to The Associated Press.
Following acknowledgement of the findings, the agency said it "has already taken aggressive and dramatic action to reduce conference spending," the AP reports.
"This conference is an unfortunate vestige from a prior era," said Werfel, according to the AP. "While there were legitimate reasons for holding the meeting, many of the expenses associated with it were inappropriate and should not have occurred."
The scrutiny comes months after the agency was berated for producing Star Trek-themed IRS training videos to the tune of $60,000.