On the heels of the release of the embarrassing Star Trek and Gilligan’s Island spoof videos, and in the midst of a major scandal, a new Internal Revenue Service video has been released: a music dance video featuring some of the same employees who performed in the now-infamous Star Trek video.
The latest video was unveiled Friday by Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee ahead of a report that is expected to be released by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration investigating wasteful spending at IRS conferences. Last February, following the release of the Star Trek and Gilligan’s Island videos featuring IRS staff, Ways and Means Committee Oversight Subcommittee chairman Charles Boustany, Jr., R-La., requested all IRS produced videos. The two original videos created a furor, and the latest example of the IRS’s creative efforts is likely to do the same (see IRS Lifts Veil on Star Trek and Gilligan’s Island Videos).
After the release of the latest video Friday, Boustany heaped further scorn on the IRS’s efforts. “Whether it is the tens of thousands of hard-earned taxpayer dollars spent to produce frivolous entertainment for agency bureaucrats, or the IRS’s own admission that it targeted the American people based on their personal beliefs, the outrage toward the IRS is only growing stronger,” he said in a statement. “Clearly this is an agency where abuse and waste is the norm and not the exception. It is clear that this is a broken agency that is empowered by a broken tax code. We need to fix this and make not only the agency, but the tax code, more effective and efficient.”
The IRS admitted in a statement that the video was "an unacceptable and inappropriate use of government funds," according to the Associated Press, and said that "the IRS and the government as a whole now have strict new policies and procedures in place to ensure that taxpayer funds are beiung used appropriately." IRS Acting Commissioner Daniel Werfel called the spending on IRS conferences discussed in the upcoming TIGTA report "an unfortunate vestige from a prior era."
“Taxpayers should take comfort that a conference like this would not take place today,” Werfel said in a statement quoted by Bloomnberg News. “Sweeping new spending restrictions have been put in place at the IRS, and travel and training expenses have dropped more than 80 percent since 2010 and similar large-scale meetings did not take place in 2011, 2012 or 2013.”
The latest video shows employees from the IRS's Small Business/Self-Employed division practicing a dance known as the "Cupid Shuffle" for a 2010 conference. The video redacts the names of the performers, but one of them appears to be the same as the employee who played the Captain Kirk character. One of the other IRS employees says, "New Carrollton in the house," the location of the IRS's video studios in Maryland. Another of the performers says near the end of the latest video, "And I thought doing the Star Trek video was humiliating!"