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Dammit Jim!

IRS Goes Where No One Has Gone Before, Uses Tax Payer Money To Pay For Star Trek Spoof


It appears there’s no sign of intelligent life at the Internal Revenue Service. They created Star Trek and Gilligan’s Island spoofs that cost tax payers $60,000. 

The Star Trek spoof (watch it here) featuring a 1960s era set and Next Generation costumes, was created as a training video in 2010 at an IRS studio in Maryland. It was released to the public this week after investigators from the House Ways and Means Committee asked for it. The Associated Press reports:

The video features an elaborate set depicting the control room, or bridge, of the spaceship featured in the hit TV show. IRS workers portray the characters, including one who plays Mr. Spock, complete with fake hair and pointed ears.

The production value is high even though the acting is what one might expect from a bunch of tax collectors. In the video, the spaceship is approaching the planet “Notax,” where alien identity theft appears to be a problem.

The IRS said it ”was a well-intentioned, light-hearted introduction to an important conference during a difficult period for the IRS.” Congress saw it differently.

“There is nothing more infuriating to a taxpayer than to find out the government is using their hard-earned dollars in a way that is frivolous,” said Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., chairman of the Ways and Means oversight subcommittee. “The IRS admitted as much when it disclosed that it no longer produces such videos.” After careful consideration, Congress considered the Gilligan’s Island parody to be a legitimate training video and did not release it.

The IRS also said in their statement, ”The IRS recognizes and takes seriously our obligation to be good stewards of government resources and taxpayer dollars. There is no mistaking that this video did not reflect the best stewardship of resources.”

The worst part of this whole thing is it took them $60,000 (or even $30,000 if the funds were divided evenly, though the report says ST got the bulk) to make this spoof. Fans have done better with a budget of nothing and Mountain Dew.

(via Yahoo)

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  • Travis Fischer

    Here’s the thing that people don’t really understand about tax money. It goes back into the economy.

    Could the government have maybe found a better use for that $60,000 than a Star Trek spoof, of course. But somebody got paid to build that set. Somebody got paid to make those costumes. Somebody got paid to use those cameras and set up those lights and write the script and edit the whole thing.

    And because those people got paid, they can do things like buy groceries, pay their rent, put gas in their car.

    And when they do that, grocery store managers, landlords, and gas station clerks get paid and then proceed to move that money along to somebody else.

    So while there are certainly more efficient and productive uses for that money, it’s not like it just vanishes into a black hole. What really matters is keeping it moving.

  • Anonymous

    I can’t really get too upset about this expense. While $60k was certainly an excessive figure for such a video, there are Billions (note the capital B) of dollars being wasted/stolen every year from our government (which is largely funded by our tax dollars) by businesses (unnecessary tax write-offs), contractors (overcharging for work that doesn’t even get done), foreign governments (funneling aid money into the pockets of politicians, warlords, and criminals), politicians (sending pork to their voting districts in exchange for votes), and other crafty individuals who know how to work the system. The fact that a Republican House Rep attacked Republican enemy #1, the IRS (and let us not be mistaken, this is what this whole kerfuffle is all about: We Hate the IRS and their damn taxes), over an amount that equals about what the government in general wastes every one-hundredth of a second of every day doesn’t surprise me at all. It saddens me. He’s probably just upset that that $60k could have bought him 10 votes in his next election.

  • http://twitter.com/porlob Patrick Orlob

    The video itself (acting aside, of course) I really don’t have a probelm with. Having been involved in organizing large conferences, bland, inoffensive and scholcky conference videos are par for the course.

    How they could POSSIBLY have spent $60,000 and ended up with this result, however, is a mystery to me.

  • Anonymous

    I could have swarn there was an episode of the IT Crowd like this.

  • Anonymous

    $60,000 and they couldn’t get the right costumes to match the set? Tragic.

  • Anonymous

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought that was shameful.

  • 1nsomniacTheater

    I thought the video was actually pretty fun, gotta be honest. And they actually acknowledged the costume mish-mash (0:56). So, at least there’s that? (Though the most jarring to me wasn’t the mix of TOS and TNG costumes as much as the use of the wrong colors — Dammit, Jim, Bones wore BLUE!) I’m probably in the tiny minority here, but I kind of like the video. Sort of pathetic, but cute.

  • Anonymous

    You missed the military. We’ve spent how many billions on the F-35 so far without actually having the fighters to show for it? Sure, every few years you need to update your air superiority fighters, but this is just ridiculous. Add in they want to do stupid things like replace the A-10 with it, we’ll wind up spending more for a less effective weapon. However, too many congressmen have military spending in their districts to consider shifting the spending to something more effective.

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    Wow, $60,000, that sounds like a lot! Why, out of the budget that’d be…that’d be…oh wait, ha ha ha, nevermind. $60,000 means that like, I guess maybe the actors & production people got paid? WHAT A NIGHTMARE.

  • Anonymous

    A medium-polish 30 second spot can easily run $5k for production. This is a five minute spot with a constructed set (that is, not just in an existing office or home or such), costumes, sound effects, a few cgi shots (even though very lame ones), etc. To make it on your own when you’re willing to put in sweat-equity, put in large amounts of time to avoid putting in money, that’ll bring down the cost. For a corporate or government entity, it doesn’t surprise me that it could cost $40k to make a video like this (let’s say $20k for the Gilligan’s Island one). I haven’t done enough video production to know the ins and outs, to know what would be an actual reasonable number for production costs. Sometimes, when something looks expensive, that’s just what it costs.

  • Anonymous

    Wasn’t there a deprtment that spent 9 figure sums to go to Vegas to scope out luxury resorts just for the entertainment of their employees? If this is the worst the IRS has done and the worst amount they’ve spent doing it you should give them a pat on the back.
    Can’t be bloody easy to work for the most despised government body – I’m glad they tried to cheer up their employees in a way that was actually instructive rather than pay for lap dances for the lot of them.
    Also, I doubt senators should be the ones to throw stones here…

  • http://twitter.com/bartholope Stephen

    The $60k production cost from the article is misleading. That cost was for both the Star Trek video and the Gilligan’s Island training video. And Congress agreed with the IRS that the castaways were a legitimate expense, which resulted in a training savings of $1.5 million per year. The breakdown between the two isn’t given, although the Star Trek video accounted for most of the expense. Which makes complete sense. The castaways just needed a bunch of coconuts, some bamboo, vines and an old radio.

  • Anonymous

    Your argument sounds like the “pay a bunch of people to dig holes and refill them” argument. While the money goes back into the economy, this video does not add much value to society. Perhaps it does for the production company, who gain experience, but it’s teaching people to use violence to get what they want. We’re being forced, at gunpoint, to fund someone else’s project. That’s immoral.

  • FenkZenk

    lol, wow I couldnt even make it to the end of the video.

    PC-Privacy.tk

  • Anonymous

    You are completely ignoring that these are training videos for tax collectors so in that respect they may pay back far more than they actually cost. So if they paid ten times more for an identical “legitimate’ training video then you are fine with that? The fact that they did this with real tax collectors rather than pay actors might make this more successful for the IRS.

  • Anonymous

    If you look at it that way the video actually saved the IRS $1 440 000, Brilliant cost savings really.

  • http://www.facebook.com/KozmikPariah Ryan Colson

    Haven’t tax payer dollars mostly been used in frivolous ways, Congress?

  • http://twitter.com/bartholope Stephen

    I would love to have a rate of return of that magnitude.

  • http://www.facebook.com/calvin.lewis.7146 Calvin Lewis

    60k for a bad movie? Coulda been worse. Coulda been Waterworld! Or John Carter! Oh yeah I forgot. Private industry is soooooo resourceful and efficient.

  • Travis Fischer

    Read the last paragraph I wrote again. It’s not very long.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tledbett Thomas Ledbetter

    I dont see what the problem here is? Many private organizations spend alot more money on training videos than this. Who cares?

  • http://www.facebook.com/tledbett Thomas Ledbetter

    $60K for a training video isnt alot of money. And if this video makes these people do their jobs better and more efficiently, than IMO its money well spent. A one time expense of $60K? People think thats ‘excessive spending’?!? LOL!! We waste BILLIONS on ridiculous department of defense projects – reoccuring every year! The IRS and tax revenue are absolute crucial to the functioning of this country. Investing $60K to make the workplace more interesting, and more productive, is perfectly acceptable IMO.

  • CG

    No need to get your panties in a wad, people. $60,000 is trinket change, compared to the billions and billions spent every year, year after year after year, on weapons that in a few years are parked out in the desert to rot. At least the public got *something* from this money. The money that goes into the military is one big black hole. Don’t be fooled. They want you to think “hey, we shut the door on this tiny wasteful spending… and you think “good!”, when the true fact of the matter is billions and billions are being driven off with in semi-truck loads… month after month after month.

    US military Spending (wiki): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/US_military_spending

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ed-Guidry/1193366881 Ed Guidry

    At least private industry wastes THEIR OWN money. That’s the point.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Dawkins/100002207329301 Jim Dawkins

    Arent most of you the generation that voted for more government and taxes? Do you really think its a simpleton thing like tax the rich. Asking for more taxes will always drip down to the middle class and into your paycheck. You just keep supporting more bad behavior in government.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Dawkins/100002207329301 Jim Dawkins

    I work for companies that spend far less than $60K on training videos. The last training video for our employees cost us $150. (To learn excel and word)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Dawkins/100002207329301 Jim Dawkins

    Bingo. I don’t think a lot people get that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Dawkins/100002207329301 Jim Dawkins

    Because its tax dollars. Do you understand the difference between a private company and a public government organization? Secondly I work for a private company who has to train its workers. The last training videos we purchased for our employees to view wasn’t anywhere near 60K. More like $150.00 (excel and office tutorial videos).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Dawkins/100002207329301 Jim Dawkins
  • Anonymous

    But did you have the videos PRODUCED? I doubt it. Your company probably bought a copy of training videos that actually had a production cost of a minimum of $5K.

  • http://twitter.com/SteveCall5 Steve Call

    If you think Marvin`s story is impossible,, four weeks ago my brother in law basically also made $7049 grafting a fifteen hour week at home and there neighbor’s mom`s neighbour has been doing this for 6 months and recieved a check for more than $7049 in their spare time from their laptop. use the tips on this web-site. ……… BIT40. ℂOℳ

  • Anonymous

    And they sure waste a lot. Just because they are private does not mean that they are automatically any more efficient than the public sector. In many examples around the world private provision of services can be more expensive than public. If you appoint people who ideologically want to destroy the service then of course you will end up with a crappy public service as well.

  • http://profiles.google.com/soterios John Romero

    Dont they use taxpayer money to pay for everything they do?

  • Pink Apocalypse

    First thing I noticed, and it irritated me instantly. Yay, geekdom!

  • http://www.facebook.com/calvin.lewis.7146 Calvin Lewis

    if they didn’t lobby to get and receive tax breaks, I’d agree with ya, Ed. But that’s just not the case: http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jan/02/entertainment/la-et-ct-fiscal-cliff-tax-break-20130102

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004365722157 Facebook User

    There are EVEN MORE government created Star Trek parodies

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uD90_rqxaIg

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5kZJFEKAko