How much did IRS spend filming 'Star Trek' spoof? (+video)(Read article summary)
An IRS conference in 2010, for which the agency produced a spoof 'Star Trek' video, has become the latest flashpoint in the debate over government waste. The video was only one questionable expense.
The theme for the IRS Small Business/Self-Employed Division meeting in question was â€śLeading into the Future,â€ť so agency officials thought it was apropos to write a 6-minute scripted presentation that featured division leaders acting in a â€śtax-themed parody,â€ť the inspector general audit said. The video was filmed on a mock set of the Starship Enterprise constructed at the agencyâ€™s New Carrollton, Md., audio-vision studio.
â€śEmployees purchased the costumes using personal funds,â€ť the IG report concluded.
Look, weâ€™re reporting this as straight as we can, all right? So donâ€™t go making jokes about going boldly where no deduction has gone before, or setting tax tables to â€śstun.â€ť
The actual video featured a voyage to the planet NoTax, where â€śchaos rules over order,â€ť according to the script. Thereâ€™s also exploration of off-planet tax shelters.
The Small Business/Self-Employed Division did not break out the cost of making this epic, per se. But the IG figured that it took about 62 hours of staff time, at a total cost of $3,100. The set cost $2,400.
(By way of comparison, the latest installment in the actual movie series, â€śStar Trek: Into Darkness,â€ť cost about $190 million. But it was longer.)
â€śNo documentation was maintained to track any costs associated with the development of the other production costs, such as script development, makeup, lighting, and videotaping,â€ť according to the IG report.
The division spent a total of about $50,000 on videos for the conference, which paid for the â€śStar Trekâ€ť effort and a 3 minute â€śSB/SE Shuffleâ€ť flick, which featured 15 executives and managers dancing on stage.
This was cheap at the price if you consider how much the IRS spent on speakers for the same meeting: $135,500.
Of this, $17,000 went to a keynote speaker who used painting to demonstrate â€śhis message of unlearning the rules, breaking the boundaries, and freeing the thought process to find creative solutions to challenges,â€ť according to the IRS contract for the appearance.
No Spock? No Captain Kirk? Looks like somebody missed an opportunity for entertainment synergy.
In total the IRS spent $4.1 million on this single 2010 conference, which included luxury suites for some officials and gifts for many of the 2,600 attendees.