IRS at Nite: The Lost Episodes

The Internal Revenue Service’s string of video parodies unfortunately may be nearing an end, now that outraged lawmakers in Congress have put a series of IRS commissioners, acting commissioners, deputy commissioners and ex-commissioners on the hot seat.

So far, we’ve seen IRS “training videos” spoofing the likes of “Star Trek,” “Gilligan’s Island,” “Mad Men” and a line-dancing video that looks like something left on the cutting room floor of NBC’s recently canceled series “Smash.”

Faris Fink, the commissioner in charge of the IRS’s Small Business/Self-Employed Division who played Mr. Spock in the “Star Trek” send-up, faced the derision of lawmakers earlier this month and apologized for his role in a video that probably cost a fraction of what many members of Congress spend on their own campaign ads when their seats are in jeopardy (see IRS’s Mr. Spock Impersonator Apologizes for Inappropriate Parody).

IRS acting commissioner Daniel Werfel, who only a few weeks into the job has been temporarily demoted to principal deputy commissioner and deputy commissioner for services and enforcement because of technicalities in the law governing how long government agencies can have acting commissioners, has pledged not to produce such videos in the future. It seems a shame that the IRS has decided to cancel the series so abruptly, so we thought it would be fun to speculate about some of the videos that the IRS never got the chance to produce:

C*A*S*H: Hawkeye and Trapper John need to account for their poker winnings during an unexpected helicopter visit by an IRS agent to the 4077th Unit in South Korea. Luckily it turns out they can deduct their gambling losses to Hot Lips Houlihan, who had a winning streak the previous year after her breakup with Major Frank Burns. Radar kindly offers to sell his teddy bear to help them pay their back taxes.

The Commissioner & Mrs. Muir: A deceased former commissioner haunts the IRS offices, where he encounters the building’s newest occupant, a widow who has joined the IRS, bringing along her two kids and their dog Scruffy. He tries to train his latter-day successor, the hopelessly bumbling Claymore Gregg, about how to operate the agency properly, but Claymore runs away terrified every time the commissioner’s ghost suddenly materializes in his office.

[IMGCAP(1)]I Love Losses: Lucy is desperate to get into Ricky’s nightclub act as a replacement for his ailing saxophonist, but he needs to hire an expensive musician so he can write off the extra wages and clam a loss on his taxes. With the help of special guest star Harpo Marx, Lucy succeeds in sneaking into the act, but Ricky is still able to claim a big enough tax refund so he can pay the back rent he owes to Fred and Ethel Mertz and avoid eviction.

The Outer Brackets: There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. An IRS agent discovers a time machine and takes it back to the 1950s, when tax rates were as high as 90 percent. He heads to Wall Street and begins demanding tax returns to audit, until he is captured by aliens and brought aboard their spaceship. He tries to discover if any of them have an ITIN to file their tax returns.

The Dick Van Shulman Show: Rob and his wife Laura try their best to satisfy the egotistical star of the C-SPAN TV show that Rob writes, even though he keeps calling Rob back to testify before Congress about the lousy episodes that Rob and his cohorts on the writing staff, Buddy and Sally, put together last season. Rob refuses to apologize for them, but admits he “regrets they happened on his watch.”

The Lerner Bunch: The head of the group that approves applications for tax exemptions marries into a family with three boys, three girls and an overworked, but kindly housekeeper named Alice. Special guest Davy Jones of the Monkees shows up to ask her daughter Marcia to the school dance, but his application is denied because her stepchildren Greg and Bobby have discovered that one of his band mates has Tea Party connections.

All in the Family Office: Archie and Edith Bunker face an audit of the family business when their son-in-law Mike Stivic, whom Archie refers to as Meathead, forgets to file their taxes for three years straight. Archie’s neighbor George Jefferson tries to help them sort out the difficulty before moving on up to his own TV series, but Archie makes the mistake of referring to the auditor’s Polish background in a derisive way and finds himself owing interest and penalties.

Transmission: Impossible: Special agent Jim Phelps steps into a phone booth to listen to a tape recording about the next taxpayer he has been assigned to audit, but the tape self-destructs and melts the phone line before he has a chance to finish downloading the subject’s tax returns and a black and white photo of her.

McCain’s Navy: Grumpy senator insists a special prosecutor is needed to investigate the strange goings-on aboard the PT-73 in the South Pacific, especially the still that the commanding officer has reportedly set up to produce booze for the sailors and the women they bring on board the ship. Frustrated Captain Binghamton is unable to stop the fun-loving lieutenant commander and his bumbling ensign from plotting their shenanigans, even when they rack up a bill for over $4 million during a wild training stopover in Anaheim.

The Cincinnati Hillbillies: Jed Clampett strikes gold from his newly minted Texas Tea Party, but when he and his family pack up the truck and move into a mansion down the street from the IRS’s Cincinnati offices, their neighbor Mr. Drysdale needs to find out how much taxable income they are generating before he can approve them. Granny tells him in no uncertain terms that they ain’t political types, and a talk with Jed’s son Jethro and daughter Elly Mae convinces Drysdale that she’s right.

Besnitched: Witch turned suburban housewife Samantha Stephens tries to deal with the backlog of tips that have accumulated for months in the IRS’s Whistleblower Office by wiggling her nose, but her husband Darrin insists she read through all of them one at a time instead. Her mother Endora puts a stop to that by turning him into a cat, but keeps mispronouncing her son-in-law’s name after trying to remember the spell to turn him back into a human being, so he comes out looking like a different actor.

Married Filing Jointly … with Children: Former high school quarterback Al Bundy doesn’t get any respect from his wife Peggy and their kids Kelly and Bud. But he is plagued most of all by his next-door neighbor Marcy, especially when she sides with his family in challenging his claim to be head of household.

Bonanza: Ben Cartwright and his sons Hoss, Little Joe and Adam run the Ponderosa ranch in Nevada, a state without its own income tax. That presents a problem to the marauding desperados who try to trespass on their land and collect federal taxes from them anyway. Luckily the Cartwrights drive them away with their six guns blazing, until they learn from a friendly IRS representative that forced sales of livestock due to drought conditions may receive special consideration for federal income tax reporting purposes.

Graph-In: Dan Rowan and Dick Martin host a madcap group of statisticians who try to create charts out of the IRS’s Statistics of Income, while popping out of walls to toss off one-liners like “Sock it to me.” If they don’t get the stats right, Ruth Buzzi hits them with her pocketbook.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.