A recent audit of the Internal Revenue Service’s lavish employee conferences may be inaccurate due to the fact that agency officials say they are unable to locate all of the "documentation" detailing their expenses -- or in other words, they don't have all of their receipts.
Take a minute to think about that. IRS officials say they can’t provide their expense documentation. So whereas millions of Americans every day track their spending and monitor possible deductions for the IRS by holding tight to their receipts, it seems the IRS wasn't able to do it for itself.
The Treasury report released on Tuesday details how IRS officials enjoyed “luxury hotel rooms, free drinks, and free food at a $4.1 million training conference,” the Associated Press notes. “It was one of many expensive gatherings the agency held for employees over a three-year period.”
“One top official stayed five nights in a room that regularly goes for $3,500 a night, and another -- who was later promoted -- stayed four nights in a room that regularly goes for $1,499,”
the report adds.
However, the cost of these lavish taxpayer-funded conferences may be higher than the even the IG estimates because, well, the IRS didn’t provide Treasury investigators with complete documentation.
This is what the IG report had to say about a 2010 IRS conference in Anaheim, Calif.:
While IRS management provided documentation showing the total final costs at $4.1 million, we could not obtain reasonable assurance that this amount represents a full and accurate accounting of the conference costs. The IRS was unable to provide documentation to support all costs associated with the conference.
Still, even without being able to account for all the receipts, the details in the IG's audit are pretty stunning.
“For example, while the IRS established a tracking code to chart employee spending, 188 workers ignored it and they spent about $245,000,” the Washington Examiner notes. “Plus, the IRS said it spent $50,187 on ‘videos’ for the conference but didn't cough up any documentation to back it up.”
“For the conference, the bulk of spending, $3.7 million, covered fancy lodging for IRS workers, but spending on trinkets and favors also added up,” the report adds.
“Among them: $1,165 for sticky notes; $1.534 for engraved travel mugs and clocks; $2,449 for journals; $4,500 for award plaques; $6,060 for lanyards and badges; $12,763 for folders; and $15,699 for brief bags.”
The IRS, for its part, promises that it’ll do a better job of holding on to its receipts -- something most responsible Americans learned to do a long, long time ago.
Here’s the full Treasury audit of the IRS conferences:
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