IRS Calls 'Star Trek' Parody Video A Mistake

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Beam Me Up, IRS!

WASHINGTON -- Nobody's going to win an Emmy for a parody of the TV show "Star Trek" filmed by Internal Revenue Service employees at an agency studio in Maryland. Instead, the IRS got a rebuke from Congress for wasting taxpayer dollars.

The agency says the video, along with a training video that parodied the TV show "Gilligan's Island," cost about $60,000. The "Star Trek" video accounted for most of the money, the agency said.

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The IRS said Friday that it was a mistake for employees to make the six-minute video. It was shown at the opening of a 2010 training and leadership conference but does not appear to have any training value. The video features an elaborate set depicting the control room, or bridge, of the spaceship featured in the hit TV show. IRS workers portray the characters, including one who plays Mr. Spock, complete with fake hair and pointed ears.

The production value is high even though the acting is what one might expect from a bunch of tax collectors. In the video, the spaceship is approaching the planet "Notax," where alien identity theft appears to be a problem.

"The IRS recognizes and takes seriously our obligation to be good stewards of government resources and taxpayer dollars," the agency said in a statement. "There is no mistaking that this video did not reflect the best stewardship of resources." The agency said it has tightened controls over the use of its production equipment to "ensure that all IRS videos are handled in a judicious manner that makes wise use of taxpayer funds while ensuring a tone and theme appropriate for the nation's tax system."

The agency also said, "A video of this type would not be made today."

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The video was released late in the day Friday after investigators from the House Ways and Means Committee requested it. "There is nothing more infuriating to a taxpayer than to find out the government is using their hard-earned dollars in a way that is frivolous," said Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., chairman of the Ways and Means oversight subcommittee. "The IRS admitted as much when it disclosed that it no longer produces such videos."

The film was made at an IRS studio in New Carrollton, Md., a suburb of Washington. The agency said it uses the studio to make training films and informational videos for taxpayers. "The use of video training and video outreach through the in-house studio has become increasingly important to the IRS to reach both taxpayers and employees," the agency said. "In the current budget environment, using video for training purposes helps us save millions of dollars and is an important part of successful IRS cost-efficiency efforts."

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IRS YouTube videos have been viewed more than 5 million times, the agency said. A video on the IRS website called "When Will I Get My Refund?" has been seen 950,000 times this filing season.

The disclosure of the "Star Trek" video comes as agencies throughout the federal government face automatic spending cuts, including employee furloughs at many of them. Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller has told employees they could be furloughed five to seven days this summer. The furloughs, however, will be delayed until after tax filing season so refunds should not be affected.

The agency said the "Star Trek" video "was a well-intentioned, light-hearted introduction to an important conference during a difficult period for the IRS." Congressional investigators initially sought both the "Star Trek" video and the "Gilligan's Island" video but after viewing them determined that the "Gilligan's Island" video was a legitimate training video. The IRS did not release the "Gilligan's Island" video.

"The video series with an island theme provided filing season training for 1,900 employees in our Taxpayer Assistance Centers in 400 locations," the IRS said. "This example of video training alone saved the IRS about $1.5 million each year compared to the costs of training the employees in person."


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11 Comments

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FreeToLive2013

Flat tax, no deductions and everyone pays. Get rid of the IRS and the compicated tax codes.

March 26 2013 at 9:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Leon Stark

If this is the WORST thing the Federal Government has wasted money on, they are not doing too badly. It is chump-change compared to some of the multimillion/ multiBillion dollar projects that took not only money, but the lives of some of our future (young, less "well-off", too eager) leaders, and how many others who now think that America is THEIR enemy.

Were any lives lost in making this video, no matter how terribly acted, poorly produced? None? Then it was just a simple waste and not a travesty that some claim it was.

March 26 2013 at 6:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jiminey99

It's a mistake, but no one at the IRS will pay for that mistake.

March 25 2013 at 9:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ga7smi

copyright infringement?

March 25 2013 at 8:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Patricia,,,,,

And of course WE paid for it....The government just keeps getting worse every single day...They don't care how much of OUR money they waste...There's no one to govern the government....Nothing but greedy A**holes every single one of them....

March 25 2013 at 6:27 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Patricia,,,,,'s comment
ga7smi

audit the rich

March 25 2013 at 8:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Winky Eye

Not suprising at all in the current climate of operational standards for the government. A total waste of hard earned taxpayer collected tax money that instead of being spent wisely and frugally is being spent on "cute" ventures. We need leadership to change the way business is being conducted these days in Washington. I hope one day everyone will wake up and realize that things have changed. No longer does the government, and I mean from the President down work for us , the taxpayer. We now work to support them as they take and waste more and more. It was never this way years ago when we held elected officials responsible and when they crossed the line, they paid at election time or were prosecuted for waste. It is very sad as we have allowed this to happen over a period of time and I do not see it returning to a smaller more efficient government. Sad for us and our children...

March 25 2013 at 6:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Linda

Obama and the IRS seem to have NO PROBLEM spending taxpayers money on total BS. Amazing and oh so very wrong of either to keep spending at a time when we need to STOP SPENDING!

March 25 2013 at 4:44 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Linda's comment
jramsay110

When Clinton left office, we had a 300 billion dollar surplus. When GWBush left, we had over 12 trillion dollar deficit. Before you criticize Obama, at least acknowledge that Bush literally devastated our economy.

March 26 2013 at 8:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ycplum

I have to give the IRS credit for admitting they did something stupid. A lot of agencies would not do it and spend way more than $60K denying they did anything wrong.

March 25 2013 at 2:56 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
Bri_N

Maybe the other video had all the expenses. This video didn't, unless they made them pay royalties.

March 25 2013 at 2:37 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

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