LOS ANGELES—The headlines alone will force you to slow down and rubber-neck the news—“IRS credit cards used to buy porn!”—and for a few long minutes you won't be able to believe it. In a pathetic showing by thousands of IRS employees we thought were far more sexually obsessed than they apparently are, an inspector's audit suggests sexual anemia at the heart of our government.
The numbers don’t lie. Following a six-month audit covering two years of “micro-purchase card transactions and internal controls in place in FYs 2010 and 2011,” the final report and recommendations of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) found a total of two instances of inappropriate use in which IRS credit cards were used to purchase online pornography. That's right ... two!
There were other instances of inappropriate use, to be sure, but just the two for porn, and the cards used in those transaction were reported stolen by the employees, which kind of brings to zero the documented instances of IRS employees using their credit cards to buy porn.
On a brighter note, the two cardholders might actually have bought the porn. The investigators themselves noted some red flags, writing in the report, “While we have not determined as part of this audit whether or not the employees actually purchased the pornography and falsely reported the cards stolen or compromised, we did discover that both of these former cardholders had multiple purchase card accounts during the time that they were cardholders, and one of these cardholders had a total of seven purchase card accounts, five of which were closed and reported by the employee as being lost, stolen, or counterfeit.
“Currently,” they continued, “the IRS does not track the number of purchase card account closures due to a lost, stolen, or compromised card, and it does not track whether a cardholder reported a stolen or compromised card to the credit card company (Citibank) and TIGTA’s Office of Investigations as required. Cardholders claiming numerous cards as lost or stolen, particularly those with potentially fraudulent charges incurred, is a red flag that should trigger further review by the IRS. In the case of both of the pornography charges, the cardholders did not inform TIGTA of the fraudulent purchases on their accounts as required. We referred the matter regarding the cardholder who is still employed by the IRS to TIGTA’s Office of Investigations for further review.”
So there you have it. Two possible porn purchases over two years, and maybe a few more that slipped through the cracks of this massive bureaucracy’s ass. Basically, a snorefest. Yes, other inappropriate purchases were made, and some people were still able to use them after leaving the IRS (not least because the agency takes so long to cancel them), but as far as buying porn goes, the IRS gets a failing grade: Two purchases in two years is a national embarrassment.
The report can be read here, if you dare.