Revelations about a $4.1 million California retreat for Internal
Revenue Service employees -- complete with IRS managers starring in a "Star
Trek" parody video -- made big news recently.
But Anaheim, where the 2010 meeting occurred, does not have a monopoly on such events.
Taxpayers ponied up another $750,000 for a smaller IRS meeting about the same time at the Kansas City Marriott Hotel, according to federal investigators.
A report on their findings mentions the Kansas City confab, a five-day training session for IRS employees that cost taxpayers $1,329 for each of 562 attendees. That's not far short of the $1,584 spent for each of the 2,600 IRS workers at the three-day Anaheim bash.
Details about the Anaheim meeting, which prompted an ongoing congressional investigation, are outlined in the May 31 report by Treasury Department auditors.
The IRS slashed expenses for such events after 2010. It says it "takes seriously its obligations to be good stewards of government resources."
But late last year, the IRS spent more than $400,000 on hotel rooms alone for another Kansas City training session, this one much longer -- three weeks -- at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center.
The hotel provided guests with a two-story hospitality suite during the IRS's entire 25-day stay.
Last year's meeting is not mentioned in the recent Treasury Department report, and the IRS did not provide The Star with details about expenses for either Kansas City meeting.
U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins of Kansas said she would like to know more about the Kansas City conferences, adding that it is unacceptable for the IRS to spend so much on "lavish conferences and training sessions" when many Americans are still trying to make ends meet.
"It is clear the IRS has proven itself a poor steward of American taxpayer dollars," said Jenkins, a Republican member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which helps oversee the IRS.
"Recent headlines have focused on the (IRS's) shameful political targeting of conservative groups, but there seems to be another persistent problem, the agency's excessive and wasteful spending habits," she said.
Beam me up
The Anaheim conference was the most expensive of 225 IRS meetings reviewed by the agency's watchdog, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
Included in the $4.1 million in expenses was $3.7 million for travel and lodging, including the cost of allowing 45 IRS employees who lived nearby to stay at the hotel and collect a daily spending allowance.
The IRS spent another $135,000 on motivational speakers, one of whom was paid $17,000 to paint portraits of famous people. Another $4,500 went for awards and plaques and $50,000 was spent on videos.
In keeping with the theme of the Anaheim retreat -- "leading into the future" -- the meeting began with the "tax-themed" Star Trek video. The inspector general determined that the IRS paid $2,400 just to build the set for that video.
All in all, according to the report, the IRS spent $48.6 million on 225 conferences from 2010 to 2012.
While the Anaheim conference has gotten all the attention, five other 2010 conferences mentioned in the report cost more than $1 million each. The August 2010 Kansas City conference came close, ranking ninth in total spending, at
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