EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


June 9, 2013

Column: IRS couldn't survive one of its own audits


Whatever happened to the policy that requires trying to negotiate the rates down? That apparently didn’t happen, according to the audit.

“The solicitation and use of hotel upgrades increases the perception of wasteful spending,” George said.

Well, didn’t we tell you he knew his apples when it comes to stating the obvious? You don’t get to be an inspector general if you rode in on a load of pumpkins, if you’ll allow me to mix my metaphors for this salad.

Seriously, folks, you would have a hard time making up this stuff. The guy Barack Obama named to head up the beleaguered agency, Commissioner Danny Werfel, has assumed a tough stand on these kinds of junkets — er, activities. He responded to the audit by saying that taxpayers should take comfort that a conference of this kind never would happen again. Why aren’t we totally reassured by that? He, too, displayed remarkable perceptiveness by adding that many of the expenditures “were over the top.”

You think?

Where do we go from here with an agency that is under fire? First, it was for questionable reviewing of applications for tax-exempt status by organizations linked to conservative causes — those opposed by Obama. Now, it also faces a burgeoning scandal in profligate spending for what even a prudent man might regard as skating close to the edge of malfeasance. The dreaded Republican-led House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will try to find out. Here comes GOP Congressman Darrell Issa of California. Look out now!

Then, have you heard the one about these tax boys and girls who dressed up in Star Trek outfits to make a training video that cost $50,000? That’s their estimate, at any rate, because they don’t have the supporting documents to help the IG inspectors. What a hoot — tax auditors without backup.

Beam me up, Scotty!

Email Dan K. Thomasson, former editor of the Scripps Howard News Service, at thomassondan@aol.com. Distributed by SHNS; see www.shns.com.

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