The Internal Revenue Service assiduously monitors the expenses you claim on your taxes every year but is not as careful when it comes to its own employees, according to a Senate report released Wednesday and first obtained by Fox News.
While one IRS agent spent a $40,000 five-month stay at Washington, D.C.’s Grand Hyatt, the Senate Finance Committee report reveals this is only one high-end example. The IRS allowed 27 employees to spend a little more than $1.4 million on long-term travel expenses in the fiscal year 2015, including luxury apartment bookings and excursions to five-star hotels, resulting in some IRS employees amassing an average per annum travel claim of $52,000.
Though federal guidelines for federal employees travel are vague and indicate that they should demonstrate the same degree of thriftiness as a “prudent person,” the Senate report flatly rejected that this standard is being taken seriously.
“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 found.
While away from home, IRS travelers often use taxis to pick up groceries or go to a restaurant.
[dcquiz] Most of the employee trips were to Washington, D.C. — despite the IRS headquarters being located there. In five instances, employees opted to live in hotels for months at a time instead of securing cheaper accommodation. Nor was there any attempt to have per diem rates lowered for these long-term travelers as “the IRS does not routinely or actively seek” to do so.
Employees traveling to Washington can claim $7,099 a month for accommodation, which the Senate report cannot justify. In addition to the five-month stay at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, one employee opted for a year-long stay at an Arlington, Va., townhouse that incurred for taxpayers a monthly bill of $4,950.
Despite encouraging the obvious benefit of employees living in proximity to their job, the committee found that this wasn’t always the case for some IRS executives.
“The lack of effort by IRS employees to exercise prudence and economy when utilizing taxpayer funds is concerning,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah, wrote in a Dec. 14 letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
Hatch suggested it is “a direct apparent violation of Federal Travel Regulation.”
The IRS promised to “closely review” the report.
“The IRS appreciates the recommendations of the Committee, and we will be providing a response to the Committee in the very near future,” IRS media relations officer Matt Leas said in a statement to The Daily Caller. “We will be closely reviewing the report.”