IRS boldly went too far with 'Star Trek' parody video
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Lucky for the Internal Revenue Service that the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee only set its phasers to stun.
But it was a stinging hit nonetheless.
On Wednesday, March 20, the subcommittee's chairman, Charles Boustany, Jr. (R-La), wrote to the IRS seeking release of video parodies produced in the agency's television studio in New Carrollton, Md.
In addition to a take-off on the popular science fiction franchise Star Trek, the IRS also made a video based on the 1960's television sitcom Gilligan's Island.
Boustany had asked in February about the productions and the IRS replied by letter, acknowledging the existence of the two videos. So the Ways and Means member went public with his second request this week, reiterating that he wanted to see the videos.
Late Friday afternoon, the IRS released the Star Trek tape.
IRS personnel in the 2010 tape portray the iconic Star Fleet characters who, aboard Enterprise Y, are en route to the planet "Notax," where they uncover alien identity theft problems, rampant untraceable cash payments, off-planet tax havens, pennies on the dollar tax debt reduction schemes and the Tax Gap flu.
The final assessment of the planet's condition came from the IRS' Mr. Spock, or Fink as he's called in the video:
"It would seem the Notaxions lack of skilled tax leaders has resulted in a widespread case of confusion -- uniformed taxpayers, high noncompliance no strategic visions. I'm afraid without a wealth of skilled leaders anarchy is spreading across the planet like a virus."
There was no word on when we might expect the premiere of the Gilligan's Island taped skit.
I'm looking forward to what tax-related lyrics they came up for the theme song -- a three-hour audit, perhaps?
I can see Gilligan trying to e-file his return.
And I'm sure Thurston Howell III and Lovey offer numerous tax options to explore -- filings by high earners, progressive tax brackets and, as Warren Buffett and Mitt Romney showed us, the different tax rates for capital gains versus ordinary income.
Mistake mea culpa: In turning over the Star Trek video, the IRS said it was a mistake for employees to make the six-minute show, which was shown at the opening of a 2010 training and leadership conference.
"The IRS recognizes and takes seriously our obligation to be good stewards of government resources and taxpayer dollars," the agency said in a statement. "There is no mistaking that this video did not reflect the best stewardship of resources."
The agency said it has tightened controls over the use of its production equipment to "ensure that all IRS videos are handled in a judicious manner that makes wise use of taxpayer funds while ensuring a tone and theme appropriate for the nation's tax system."
"A video of this type would not be made today."
The cost of both videos was around $60,000, with the Star Trek one accounting for most of that expenditure, according to the IRS. They were produced at the agency's in-house studio, which Boustany said "may have" cost more than $4 million to build.
Boustany said he wanted the videos made public "so that taxpayers can be assured that resources were used efficiently and in a manner keeping with the IRS's core mission."
Let's be honest. While accountability is paramount when it comes to all federal agency expenditures, 60 grand is not even a full drop in the huge ocean that is the federal budget.
What Boustany really wanted was to embarrass the IRS. Mission accomplished.
Now all of us taxpayers also should watch the C-SPAN tapes of how Congress, whose actions our tax dollars also support, is and isn't doing its job.
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Who knew anyone at the IRS even had a sense of humor? Maybe that one person who did got fired for making this truly awful video. Judging by how many references to tax issues there were in the video to your posts,I'd have to say maybe they have been following you! ;-)
Posted by: Katherine | Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 10:32 AM