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The IRS Star Trek Video

April 8, 2013

The IRS’s budget is a little over $12 billion. I’m having trouble finding how what fraction of that is explicitly designated for training, but I guarantee it’s over a million dollars. This video was the afterthought of an afterthought for the IRS’s director of training. It’s less than a rounding error for an agency that big. Given that our tax code is so complex that no human being could possibly figure it out in a hundred lifetimes, you’re going to need a big agency to administer it. Given that you have a gigantic agency administering such a law, they’re going to need training. That training is going to be allocated in a budget, and at the end of the year, there’s usually some money left over and it’s going to get spent on whatever silly projects that present themselves.

Those projects could be hiring some instructor to teach a class on communication styles, or reducing workplace stress levels or honestly anything even vaguely related to achieving the agency’s mission. I’ve seen it happen, and I don’t think there’s any reasonable way to prevent it. If you want to stop it, you’ve just got to add another layer of bureaucracy on top of the whole darn thing to audit the next lower level. It just adds more rules and more paperwork and more mess, and honestly for a $60,000 slip up every now and then, it’s just not worth it. Hiring one person to oversee the training department’s classes for reasonableness is going to cost 50 times that much. Say it’s a GS 13 position, that’s at least 150k+ per year, for forever. Large bureaucracies waste money. It is unavoidable. If you don’t like it, get rid of the law which necessitates a gigantic bureaucracy to administer.

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