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Auditing the auditor: more concerns about dubious IRS spending

The IRS continues to take a public relations beating. It's only been about six weeks since the revelation that the agency had selectively subjected certain political groups for heightened scrutiny of their applications for tax-exempt status.

And as we reported in our June 4 post, there have also been concerns about management of resources at the IRS. A recent audit by the Treasury Inspector General for Administration (TIGTA) found instances in which the IRS spend lavishly on conferences for its employees and failed to require appropriate documentation.

Taxpayers in Southern California and across the nation are quite naturally wondering whether there are any more shoes to drop.

The answer, it seems, is yes. An audit of the IRS by TIGTA uncovered additional details about the questionable conference spending. It described a number of other questionable purchases by IRS employees using their agency charge cards.

The reason the employees have those cards is to make work-related purchases. A lot of employees - some 90.000 - have such cards. And many employees use them for much more than buying Post-it notes or other office items.

Some of the items purchased for the conference were seemingly silly. For example, the expenses on the IRS charge cards included Thomas the Tank Engine wristbands.

The overall problem, however, is pattern of questionable purchases. The Thomas the Tank wristbands were part of a $4,000 purchase that also included kazoos and Nerf footballs.

In addition, the TIGTA audit showed that in some cases IRS charge cards had been used to make online pornography purchases. Even if the cards in question were lost or stolen, it suggests the IRS needs stronger controls on its employees' charge cards.

Taxpayers who may face tax audits by the IRS can take some consolation in knowing that the agency itself is not immune to errors.

Source: CNN Money, "Porn, wine and kazoos on IRS worker charge cards," Jennifer Liberto, June 26, 2013

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