Who doesn’t love a good story of the IRS sticking its foot in its mouth? This month’s edition of what is apparently a never ending story finds a rather awkward video from 2010 surfacing in the public domain. CBS news filed a FOIA request and obtained one of two “training videos” produced by the tax agency in their own television production studio which doesn’t really look like a very good investment of your tax dollars. (Wait… the IRS has their own television studio?) The details:
“Space: the final frontier
These are the voyagers of the Starship Enterprise Y
Its never-ending mission is to seek out new tax forms
To explore strange new regulations
To boldly go where no government employee has gone before.”
Thus begins a six-minute “Star Trek” parody starring IRS employees and paid for with your tax dollars. It’s not likely to go over well with some Americans and members of Congress, especially since federal agencies have been complaining that it’s difficult to find trims under forced sequestration.
CBS News filed a Freedom of Information request asking for the video after the IRS earlier refused to turn over a copy to the congressional committee that oversees tax issues: House Ways and Means. According to committee Chairman Charles Boustany, Jr. (R-LA), the video was produced in the IRS’s own television studio in New Carrollton, MD. The studio may have cost taxpayers more than $4 million dollars last year alone.
Four million dollars a year? Gee… I wonder if they couldn’t use that money to keep another airport control tower open. In any event, there were two such “training videos” produced during that period. One was the Star Trek parody featured here and the second was a Gilligan’s Island knockoff. (Sadly, the latter is not available for screening.) The two videos alone are estimated to have cost $60,000 of your cash. But the IRS is doubling down, saying this was actually saving you money!
IRS Acting Commissioner Steven Miller said in a statement that one of the two videos was played in 400 locations and saved taxpayers $1.5 million over what it would have cost to train employees in person.
I’ll let you be the judge as to whether this “training material” was a good substitute for actual classroom time learning the rules of the tax code. The video actually had me chuckling in a couple of spots, if only for the campy nature of the film work and the clumsy dialogue, but they probably blew more on the set and uniforms than the original Star Trek series did. Some of the “jokes” they work into the script are reminiscent of other government agencies making fun of wasteful spending of tax dollars and idiotic policies.
Yeoman: Sorry about the uniforms, Captain. The dry cleaner gave me the wrong order. Starlight Coffee while you wait sir? It’s better than McDonalds and only twice the price.
Captain: No can do, Yeoman. I’ve already spent my per diem for the day.
Another aside between two crew members working at the helm is along the same lines.
Crewman 1: “Back in Russia, I dreamed someday I’d be rich and famous.”
Crewman 2: “Me too, That’s why I became a public servant.”
Finally, we come to the astounding idea that people in the 23rd century will still have problems with taxes and fraud, but the solution will be to go back to our time to consult our amazing leaders in this field.
SPOCK: Captain, there may be another solution. I took the liberty of doing a time warp scan of the galaxy and believe I have found a gathering of leaders who could be of assistance. They met in the 21st century in Anaheim, California. Earth, sir.
BONES: That’s perfect, Chris. We can go back in time and bring the leaders into our century and pick up some tax gap vaccine in a local pharmacy. Their travel and medical expenses can be itemized.
CAPTAIN: Excellent idea, Bones.
Those are only a few highlights. Here’s the entire 6 minute video.