Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today sent a letter to the IRS questioning the agency’s spending decisions. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen continues to make excuses claiming that unless the IRS receives more taxpayer funds, the agency will continue to ignore 60 percent of taxpayer calls. However, Chairman Hatch notes several areas the IRS has been making wasteful spending decisions:

  • $4.3 million spent on “market research” and “public opinion” polling last fiscal year;
  • Over $8,000 spent on a “fitness equipment stair climber,” which I assume is in a building with actual stairs;
  • Thousands of dollars spent on “decorative and give-away items,” such as plush animals, toy footballs, and “kazoos, bathtub toy boats, and Thomas the Tank Engine rubber wristbands, for managers’ meetings.”
  • Nearly $4 million spent on office furniture last fiscal year.

As Chairman Hatch’s letter says, the IRS’s level of service has become so poor that the agency is hanging up on taxpayers, and turning away others. As the letter states:

More recently, several news articles have detailed stories of IRS employees turning away those seeking help with their tax filings and hanging up on callers – something your agency bizarrely calls “courtesy disconnects.”

Given the numerous instances of wasteful government spending by the IRS, it is difficult to agree with the claim that they desperately need more funding. In fact, the National Taxpayer Advocate, an independent watchdog has found that the IRS is unable to justify its allocation of taxpayer funds and has come under scrutiny by oversight organizations for its past resource allocation.