(NaturalNews) The IRS has been in the news quite a bit lately, beginning with revelations earlier this spring that the agency purposely stalled approval of tax exempt status for a number of conservative, tea-party oriented organizations more than two years before the 2012 election. Most recently, however, the agency has been taken to task for its profligate spending habits and blatant abuses of taxpayer funds.
On that latter note, a recent Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) investigation revealed that several IRS employees have abused their government-provided credit cards to purchase highly questionable and inappropriate items and services. A study of the IG's report by the group Americans for Tax Reform compiled a list of the 10 most preposterous, absurd items that were bought with IRS credit cards, and here it is:
Nerf footballs - Employees bought $119 worth of Nerf brand footballs. Though they were intended to be used for a "team-building exercise," which is bad enough, "they never used the balls, which are 'currently stored in a filing cabinet' somewhere in the bowels of the IRS," writes ATR's Grover Norquist.
"Related alcohol purchases" - IRS cards at one luncheon, the IG found, were used for "related alcohol purchases" which included 28 bottles of wine for only 41 guests. "As a bottle of wine contains about five this equates to three and a half glasses of wine per person. YOLO!" writes Norquist.
Thomas the Tank Engine rubber wristbands - "For the child in all of us," Norquist said, "the IRS purchased these for 'managers' meetings." These ridiculous items were part of the "almost $4,000 in improper decorative and give-away items" (swag, as it were) that the IG found in its review.
World's largest crossword puzzle What? Yes. "Along with some jigsaw puzzles, the IRS purchased the 'world's largest crossword puzzle,'" Norquist wrote. Though their cost was miniscule - $89 - every penny of the IRS budget comes from the taxes it must collect from hardworking, hard-pressed American taxpayers. So every foolish purchase is an insult to the taxpayer footing the bill. Plus, such ridiculous purchases make you wonder if the IRS employee who bought this would have done so if using his or her own money.
Plush animals - "Even IRS agents need a little love sometimes, which may be why plush animals were purchased with IRS credit cards as give away prizes. Who wouldn't want to go home and squeeze their little teddy after a long day of harassing free-market grassroots groups?" wrote Norquist.
"Bathtub toy boats" - You really can't make this stuff up. The IRS IG found that one employee used a government card to purchase "give-away items" for IRS managers' meetings (why is any IRS employee buying anything with taxpayer money to give away to other IRS employees?). Some of these included "bathtub toy boats" which cost $418 dollars - along with some other "improper decorative and give-away items," the IG report said.
"Stove top hats" - Yes, like the one worn by Honest Abe Lincoln. These were purchased as more "give-away" prizes.
Kazoos - I don't know about you, but I've never heard anyone who can honestly play a kazoo. But that didn't matter to one IRS employee who used your tax money to purchase "novelty decorations and give-away items, such as kazoos," which - again - were given away at managers' meetings. "Don't you really wish you knew what went on in these meetings?" asks Norquist. I think we know, Grover.
Expensive dinners - With millions of Americans squeezing all they can out of every dollar they spend, especially on food (which keeps rising, by the way), some IRS employees feel like they deserve to treat themselves with your money. The IG documented "dinner at an approximate cost of $140 per person, four times the Federal Government per diem rate in Washington D.C." At the time of the conference the per diem rate was $36 for dinner - still not bad.
Expensive lunches - When was the last time you dropped a C-note on lunch? Some IRS employees have, and have done so recently - even as the Defense Department prepares to furlough hundreds of thousands of vital military technicians and other civilian employees, and as the nation becomes further mired in debt.
Now, the really bad news for taxpayers. Despite the agency's profligate spending habits, IRS employees and managers are set to receive $70 million in bonuses, despite a White House directive ordering federal agencies to suspend such bonus payments.