Published June 25, 2013
WASHINGTON – Another government watchdog report has flagged inappropriate behavior at the IRS, this time claiming government credit cards were used to make questionable purchases on items ranging from wine to online pornography.
The report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that between fiscal 2010 and 2011, the more than 5,000 IRS card accounts racked up $103 million in purchases.
"While the majority of IRS cardholders appear to use their purchase cards properly, TIGTA's audit identified some troubling instances of inappropriate usage," J. Russell George, the inspector general, said in a statement.
The report said the cards were at one point used to pay for a dinner that cost roughly $140 per person -- four times the amount allowed by federal rules. They were also used to pay for a lunch that cost about $100 per person, five times the allowed amount.
The report said IRS credit cards paid for 28 bottles of wine at the 2010 luncheon for tax officials from other countries. There were 41 guests.
In another case, cards were used to make questionable purchases of decorative and give-away items including plush animals, bandanas, kazoos and a rented popcorn machine.
Another cardholder allegedly made $2,655 worth of personal purchases -- the report said credit card information indicates it was spent on diet pills, romance novels and other items, and that the purchaser may have provided false receipts to justify it.
Two IRS credit cards were also used to buy online pornography, though the employees reported the cards stolen. One of the workers reported five agency credit cards lost or stolen.
The report said the IRS has inadequate controls to stop inappropriate purchases.
The report was issued by the same watchdog that flagged the IRS' inappropriate screening of conservative groups that were seeking tax-exempt status. The IG office has also criticized the agency for its conference spending practices, though agency leaders say that spending has been curbed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.