According to a press release from Sen. Orrin Hatch’s office, the IRS has spent a boatload of taxpayer money on lots of things it really doesn’t need.
Now, normally, accusing a government agency of making terrible financial decisions is all in a day’s work for Congress, the Inspector General, and political writers who, since Hillary Clinton has halted her ridiculous van tour of Iowa to beg for money from Des Moines donors, but today, being Tax Day, is special. After all, what could possibly make this day better than to see not only what the government is wasting your hard-earned money on, but what the agency charged from extracting it from the very marrow of your bones has been buying with their share.
Turns out, the list begins with an overpriced stair climber (for use in a building with stairs), and ends with Thomas the Tank Engine.
The Internal Revenue Service spent millions of dollars on public opinion polling, office furniture and other items last year, including an $8,000 stair climber, and Thomas the Tank Engine wristbands…The spending borders on the ridiculous — including plush animals, toy footballs, kazoos, bathtub toy boats, and Thomas the Tank Engine rubber wristbands for managers’ meetings.
It also includes very costly expenditures, including $4.3 million on market research and public opinion polling and $4 million on office furniture, in addition to the stair climber.
It is, of course, not unusual for a government agency to spend like a drunken sailor on leave right before the close of the fiscal year (though, as the joke goes, drunken sailors usually just spend their own money). If agencies do not consume their full budget for the fiscal year, they may not qualify to receive the same amount or more the following year. So, the IRS, like many agencies, goes on a year-end spending spree, purchasing all new office furniture and office supplies, and free IRS trinkets that are supposed to cheer you up while you get audited.
The problem here is, the IRS has recently complained that they are short funds. Last year, they took a $350M paycut, landing their budget at a meager $10.9 billion. In response, the agency maintains that it’s been forced to tighten its belt beyond reason, and has been eliminating non-essential personnel and cutting into its customer service operation, causing IRS “customers” to experience delays in recieving refund checks and long waits on the IRS helpline (if, that is, they don’t experience one of the IRS’s recent invention, the “courtesy disconnect”). The IRS is so woefully underfunded that they simply cannot afford to attend to the dramatic increase in need that Americans experience when forced into a yearly tangle with the tax code.
And yet, they’re shelling out $4m for desk chairs. Maybe next year, they should consider using that surplus budget to get a few temporary workers to fill them.
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