IRS Releases Another $10K Video To Congress!

I guess its better the IRS spend money making videos than on hiring more auditors. On Friday, the Service released to the House Ways and Means Committee another video spoof to add to their infamous collection, a parody of Donald Trump’s The Apprentice.

The latest video, which joins the IRS’s past nods to Star Trek, Gillian’s Island and line dancing, cost approximately $10,000 to make, based on information provided by the IRS. It was made to be shown at an IRS small business/self-employed division conference, which was later cancelled.

“Another day, another example of abuse and waste at the IRS,” commented Charles Boustany Jr., R-La., chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight.

“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’s 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.”

“These two videos made in 2010 and 2011 are from a prior era and do not reflect the stringent policies IRS now has in place to ensure that all training videos are made at the lowest possible cost and with appropriate content,” the IRS said in a statement. “Simply put, these videos would not be made at the IRS today. It’s important to note that video costs by IRS business units are down by 90 percent this year compared to a year ago. In addition, the use of videos provides critical taxpayer information and employee training, which helps the IRS save millions of dollars each year.”

Now The IRS Is Targeting Veterans Administrations!

The American Legion and other veterans’ organizations are expressing concern over reports that the Internal Revenue Service is requiring them to maintain military service records for their members or face stiff penalties.

The conservative news site, the Daily Caller, reported last week that the IRS is now requiring American Legion posts to maintain dates of service and character of service records for all their members, with a penalty of $1,000 per day if they don’t comply. The American Legion only recently learned about a section of the 2011 Internal Revenue Manual pertaining to audits of veterans’ organizations.

However, according to a report by a local Georgia news outlet, the Dalton Daily Citizen, leaders of two American Legion posts say they hadn’t ever heard about the issue before, nor been approached by the IRS to provide documentation of their members’ service records.

A Republican senator has written a letter to the IRS asking for details about the reports, which have also been reported by the Fox News Channel. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., demanded answers in a letter addressed last Tuesday to IRS acting commissioner Daniel Werfel about IRS efforts to audit veteran service organizations in Kansas and across the country. He asked that the IRS cease carrying out the audits until the mandate is reviewed to be certain the privacy of veterans is respected.

“Even after they return home from war, veterans in America continue to fight battles,” Moran wrote. “Many struggle to find a job, face difficulties accessing quality health care services, or wait senselessly long periods of time for their benefits claims to be processed by the federal government. The last thing veterans should have to worry about is their privacy within veteran service organizations, or the ability of those organizations to endure seemingly arbitrary IRS audits and the severe financial penalties that could ensue. This news is deeply concerning to me and the thousands of veterans I represent in Kansas.”

Moran asked that the following questions be addressed by the agency: What legal authority does the IRS have in carrying out a mandate for personal, military service records? Was this mandate reviewed by IRS general counsel?

He asked Werfel to provide documentation that gives the IRS the authority to collect this information. Moran also asked under whose leadership was the mandate initiated, for what direct purpose, and who had the approving authority for the mandate. He also wanted to know if veteran service organizations were ever specifically notified of the requirement. If so, he asked Werfel to provide the documentation that was issued to these organizations, and if not, to explain why organizations were not notified. “Is it true that an organization unable or unwilling to provide this information could be charged penalty fees of $1,000 per day?” Moran also asked. “Please provide clarification regarding the penalty for noncompliance.”

Accounting Today also asked the IRS for an explanation and received the following statement from an IRS spokesperson. “By law, the IRS cannot comment on individual taxpayers or organizations,” said the IRS. “Given the unique role of veterans’ organizations in our country, there are special rules in the nation’s tax law to provide tax-exempt status. In fact, there are specific criteria set by Congress that these groups must meet to qualify and operate under Internal Revenue Section 501(c)(19), ranging from membership guidelines to fund-raising efforts.

“For example, tax laws require that qualifying veterans groups must have at least 75 percent of their members who are past or present members of the Armed Forces and 97.5 percent of the total membership must be from the Armed Forces, cadets or have other close relationships to members of the military,” the IRS added. “The IRS conducts exams of veterans’ organizations to ensure adherence to such details of the tax code. Given the important role these charities play in the nation, exams help protect the integrity of the tax-exempt sector and the important groups operating under the special provisions of the tax law. There is no special enforcement effort underway regarding 501(c)(19) organizations, just regular compliance activity. The IRS also has a variety of special publications and other outreach to assist these groups in meeting the criteria outlined under the federal tax law.”

The IRS Now Recognizes Same Sex Marriages

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service have ruled that same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes.