US IRS training video spoofing Apprentice draws Republican fire

A woman walks out of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building in New York in this May 13, 2013 photo. Republicans in the House of Representatives on Friday released another embarrassing United States IRS training video, this one a spoof of The App
A woman walks out of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building in New York in this May 13, 2013 photo. Republicans in the House of Representatives on Friday released another embarrassing United States IRS training video, this one a spoof of The Apprentice television programme that shows IRS workers coming up with ideas to save money on conferences. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Republicans in the House of Representatives on Friday released another embarrassing United States (US) Internal Revenue Service (IRS) training video, this one a spoof of The Apprentice television programme that shows IRS workers coming up with ideas to save money on conferences.

The House Ways and Means Committee released the 2011 parody of the show starring real estate mogul Donald Trump after a report released in June detailed lavish spending at a 2010 IRS conference, including a video parody of the television show Star Trek. The four-minute Apprentice spoof cost US$10,000 (S$12,800) to produce, Republicans on the committee said.

"Months ago, I demanded the IRS come clean about the time and money it spent to produce these frivolous videos," said Representative Charles Boustany, chairman of a Ways and Means subcommittee probing IRS spending.

"While we may have no answers, we do have an endless supply of what appears to be the IRS's idea of entertainment," he said.

IRS acting chief Daniel Werfel apologised in May ahead of the report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration that detailed the 2010 conference with the Star Trek parody.

On Friday, IRS spokesman Michelle Eldridge said the Apprentice video was "from a prior era and does not reflect the stringent policies IRS now has in place to ensure that all training videos are made at the lowest possible cost and with appropriate content".

"Simply put, this video would not be made at the IRS today," Ms Eldridge said.

Rules put in place this year cut spending on videos to an estimated US$139,000 from US$2.2 million in fiscal 2012.

The IRS is still recovering from a separate inspector general report in May that criticised the agency for inappropriately scrutinising Tea Party and other conservative-leaning political groups seeking tax-exempt status.

The IRS Tea Party controversy has lost some of its punch in recent months amid revelations that IRS workers also used key words associated with liberal-leaning political groups. The inspector general is now examining that issue.