IRS Apologizes for $60,000 'Star Trek' Tax-Evasion Training Video
The Internal Revenue Service, after going boldly where no man – or government agency – has gone before, has come crashing back to earth, apologizing for what it spent to produce a "Star Trek" parody training video.
The video was made for a 2010 conference training IRS agents on finding tax evaders. Also produced for the conference was a skit parodying "Gilligan's Island." Both cost around $60,000 to produce.
The "Star Trek" video was made public on Friday, after drawing phaser fire from the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee's oversight chairman, Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., R-La.
Boustany questioned how the IRS, in the midst of debt concerns in Congress, could spend that kind of money for the two training skits. He demanded that the IRS release the "Star Trek" video to the public, to show how money was being wasted.
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The "Gilligan's Island" parody, which was much more explicit in showing training operations, was not released.
As a result, the IRS said it has put in place safeguards over its production facilities 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."
It also said, "A video of this type would not be made today."
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"The IRS recognizes and takes seriously our obligation to be good stewards of government resources and taxpayer dollars," the agency said in a statement. "There is no mistaking that this video did not reflect the best stewardship of resources."
Boustany, who had questioned the use of taxpayer resources to produce the videos didn't exactly tell the IRS to "live long and prosper."
Instead he suggest the IRS had at least realized it had erred.
"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," he said in a statement. "The IRS admitted as much when it disclosed that it not longer produces such videos."