IRS fails government audit – Huh? WTF?

With an ironic twist to the famous quote from Alexander Pope, “To err is human, to really f**k something up is a government job,” the IRS failed a recent audit by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). (story here)

Getting audited is such a hassle! Just ask the IRS.

A new report from the Government Accountability Office inspected the tax agency’s financial statements from the 2009 fiscal year with the exacting thoroughness of, well, of an IRS auditor, and found a few billion-dollar errors.

According to the report (PDF), the IRS made a variety of accounting errors last year that “could adversely affect the reliability of its financial statements” and result in “duplicate or erroneous refunds.” Among the mistakes were a “failure to record the receipt of a taxpayer’s $3 million payment” and an $8 billion discrepancy between two accounting systems tracking how much money taxpayers owe. The audit also found a $5.1 billion “unexplained variance” between the total amount the agency took in last year and the amount its detailed tax files said it took in.

But what’s a few billion here or there, right?

In truth, the shortcomings are all relatively minor infractions given the size of the IRS, and don’t materially affect its performance of its duties. And you’ll find similar lapses in virtually any close examination of a huge bureaucracy.

But it’s still good to know that the IRS had to go through it, if only so it can empathize with the American taxpayer.

A few billion here, a few billion there – pretty soon we’re talking about some serious money.



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