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Senate report shows it takes only 27 IRS employees to spend over $1.4 million taxpayer dollars on TRAVEL

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Looks like the IRS may be in need of some swamp-draining by President-elect Donald Trump.

Americans picked up the tab for Internal Revenue Service employees who racked up more than $1.4 million in travel expenses in 2015, according to a Senate report.

Those expenses were created by just 27 employees using high-end car services and staying at luxury apartments and hotels, the Senate Finance Committee report found.

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The committee reported that the “IRS has not routinely taken the steps allowable to reduce its travel related per diem expenditures,” citing examples of employees living in hotels for months at a time in the Washington, D.C. area without looking for lower-cost alternatives.

Despite the agency’s own policies, the committee found that some IRS “executives are still not geographically located where their primary job duties are,” incurring more unnecessary travel related expenses.

With an accompanying chart, the report listed “27 employees who traveled 125 business days or more at a total cost of over $1.4 million. The average cost of each trip was approximately $52,800 with an average trip length of 207 days.”

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Image: A Review of IRS Employee Travel

“The number of employees who travel more than half of the year and the cost at which they do so is simply unacceptable,” the report said.

And while the IRS guidelines allow employees to spend up to $7,099 per month on lodging, the committee saw “virtually no circumstance” in which that much would need to be spent monthly.

The report cited  one employee who spent 168 days at the Grand Hyatt in Washington at a total cost to taxpayers of $38,799.

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“Another employee moved among several hotels in the Washington area before primarily residing at the Ritz Carlton – Pentagon City in Virginia. The employee’s hotel bills for the fiscal year totaled $72,544, $43,726 of which was for the Ritz Carlton – Pentagon City,” the report stated.

One employee “rented a four-bedroom, $1.07 million townhouse in Arlington, Va.  for a year, costing $4,950 per month. Another stayed in a luxury apartment building costing $4,605 a month in downtown Chicago overlooking the Chicago River.

The committee also found additional expenses that were deemed “excessive or prohibited” such as charging the IRS for cab rides to dinner and the grocery store. The report listed showed a chart of “unusually high amounts of dry cleaning and laundry expenses.”

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Image: A Review of IRS Employee Travel

The Committee Chair Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, in a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, said the “lack of effort” by IRS employees to be prudent with taxpayer money was “concerning” and the report’s findings were “frustrating.”

“Committee staff saw example after example of routine Amtrak Acela trips, black car service, and luxury apartment rentals when reviewing IRS employee travel vouchers,” Hatch said. “Furthermore, the IRS made woefully insufficient efforts to reduce expenses in ways that would still allow employees to travel comfortably.”

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Frieda Powers

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