IRS Cut Its Video Productions by 90% after Poor Reviews from Congress

Friday, September 13, 2013
IRS executive Faris Fink as Spock in IRS video (AP Photo)

Bowing to complaints from House Republicans, the Internal Revenue Service has decided to slash funding for its video productions by 90%.


Some IRS videos made for agency employees have been in a humorous vein, such as parodies of “The Apprentice” and “Gilligan’s Island.”


But budget-cutting GOP lawmakers haven’t found anything funny with the IRS spending money on these videos, leading to repeated criticisms.


The four-minute takeoff of “The Apprentice” reportedly cost $10,000, and involved the participation of senior IRS executives, like Faris Fink, the Small Business and Self-Employed Division Commissioner who also appeared in a “Star Trek” parody.


Representative Charles Boustany Jr. (R-Louisiana), chairman of the Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee, said in a statement: “Another day, another example of abuse and waste at the IRS. Months ago, I demanded the IRS come clean about the time and money it spent to produce these frivolous videos. While we may have no answers, we do have an endless supply of what appears to be the IRS’ idea of entertainment. Whether it is wasteful conferences and videos or the inexcusable targeting of taxpayers based on their personal beliefs, there is nothing amusing about the American people footing the bill for this rogue and out-of-control agency.”


The IRS says it has made about 2,300 videos since 2010 on various topics, ranging from tax refund information to identity theft. Last year, its video production budget was $2.2 million.


Officials said that they imposed stricter rules earlier this year in response to GOP criticism. Those new procedures required that video productions focus on substantive issues and receive final approval by a deputy commissioner. The IRS also said that they had cut their annual video budget down to $139,000.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

IRS Slashes Spending on Videos by 90 Percent (by Charles S. Clark, Government Executive)

IRS Spent $10,000 on Video Spoof of Reality Show 'The Apprentice' (by Shan Li, Los Angeles Times)

IRS Faces New Scrutiny for Excessive Spending on Conferences (by Ed O’Keefe, Washington Post)

The SBSE Apprentice (IRS Parody Video)

SBSE: Leading Into the Future (IRS Parody Video)


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