The IRS needs to hold a garage sale. According to a TIGTA study reported in Wastebook 2011, the IRS currently has 22,486 pieces of furniture and equipment in storage. These items have been stored for at least 18 months and require 35,000 square feet of space at an annual cost of $862,000.
Wastebook 2011 is Senator Tom Colburn (OK-R) oversight report on his top 100 mis-uses of federal tax monies. At a time that the Federal deficit it over $15 trillion, we are still spending too much on pork projects and badly handled programs. Of course, the report represents the ideology of the Senator but he does have a good point. The US is wasting too much tax money. Download the Report.
Some of my favorite “wastes” were government programs:
- China is getting $17.8m in US Foreign Aid. Yes, we are giving aid to the country that holds a large percentage of our national debt.
- $20m to develop a “Sesame Street” type TV series for Pakistan.
- $147,138 was allocated to develop a magic museum.
- $113,277 was spent to study video game preservation. They already have a museum.
- But Skiing didn’t, so they received $86,014 for a History of Skiing Museum.
- To study the impact of television on the family, over $700,000 was spent to provide TVs to rural Vietnamese villages. These villages were so remote they had no electricity, so the families also had to be given gas generators to power the TVs.
- A program to stimulate online soap opera production cost us almost $1 million.
- $200,000 was spent to study if taking a “green” position would help a political candidate get elected.
- The Hawaii Chocolate Festival received $48,700 for festival promotion.
- The National Institute of Health give researchers over $175,000 to see if cocaine had an effect of the sex drive of Japanese Quail.
- Lest we forget it, social networking received a couple of grants. A half a million was spent to study if we could trust what we see on sites like Twitter. And over $750,000 was allotted to see how college students use mobile devices for social networking.
But not all waste is coming from pork programs and questionable grants. Senator Colburn also points out instances when legitimate programs have been mismanaged or just not set up well. It makes sense for the IRS to hold onto some currently unneeded furniture and equipment but they need a plan to get rid of all the stuff that will never be reused. (And I bet the IRS isn’t the only federal agency spending lots on storage because it’s easier than cleaning it out.) And every tax preparer can point to the refunds given for the 1st Time Homebuyer’s Credit or Residential Energy Credits. In 2011, the estimate is $1billion in Energy Credits went to dependents, prisoners and others who didn’t own a home. Then there’s the Office of Personnel Management sending out $120 million in benefits to dead employees. That’s happened for the last 5 years. One man cashed checks sent to his father for 37 years and was only caught when he died.
The sad truth is that none of this will change. Five years from now, the projects and dollar amounts will be different but there will be another list of “how the government wastes money.” Congress won’t give up their “pork” projects, legislation will be put into effect without thinking about possible fraud and Federal agencies will waste money because it’s easier than working to save it. Sorry about the gloom but it's hard to be optimistic as Congress plays with tax cuts.