Taxing times for IRS


A new report that the Internal Revenue Service spent nearly $50 million on conferences for its personnel between 2010 and 2012 should be the last straw for Congress and Americans. But it can’t be.

This report comes on top of information that the IRS gave special scrutiny to conservative groups that sought nonprofit, tax-free status — particularly those with “Tea Party” in their names.

Many Americans already hate the IRS — a feeling that is even more acute in the spring, when they labor over tax forms and then sometimes have to write painfully large checks.

Now Americans hear that the IRS has been spending large amounts of government money to amuse its personnel with expensive conferences, including amateur costume simulations of TV shows. The agency announced it has put two of its officials on administrative leave for having accepted $1,000 in gifts at one such conference in 2010.

The IRS needs to hold conferences from time to time, to keep employees working from the same page in enforcing regulations. But hosting officials at costly meetings where they dance and wear funny clothes makes them and the enraged taxpayers who foot the bill look like fools.

Somebody has to collect taxes; that duty falls to the IRS. It needs to get its house in order to do that job properly.