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IRS charge cards used for pornography, wine, $4,000 in kazoos and more: report

Report from the Treasury Inspector General for tax administration reveals a host of improper purchases by Internal Revenue Service employees.

IRS chief Daniel Werfel 2013 06-24Enlarge
Acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel (L) testifies before the House Financial and General Government Subcommittee with Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George (R) on June 3, 2013, in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

There are some things that money can't buy Internal Revenue Service employees, but for everything else there are the agency's charge cards. At least, that's what a new watchdog report released on the agency says, according to CNN

An audit conducted by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration revealed that IRS workers routinely used company cards, which were supposed to be used for work-related items only, to buy all sorts of crazy things... everything from pornography to diet pills to kazoos.

Yes, kazoos.

The report also said two employees had charged IRS cards with items "from merchants affiliated with online pornography." Isn't that slightly illegal?

The watchdog organization's David Barnes told US News Wednesday that it's possible crimes were committed in that transaction.

Some of the more innocent purchases included "the world's largest crossword puzzles," as US News had it, and Thomas the Tank Engine bracelet-thingies. Together with the kazoos and Nerf footballs, the seemingly frivolous purchases added up to $4,000.

On the other hand, charges that were apparently above-board included a dinner that cost $140 per head and a lunch that cost $100 per head. 

In total, employees spent 103.2 million with 5,241 purchases over the two-year period ending September 2011, said US News. After going through it all, the inspector general found that the "IRS purchase card program lacks consistent oversight to identify and address inappropriate use," according to CNN

The new IRS director has promised to pursue the matter.