There is plenty of controversy surrounding the IRS’ $4 million per year professional video production studio in New Carrollton, MD. Most of the controversy has been stirred by a man named Charles Boustany, Jr., chairman of the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee who sees the studio as the ultimate in government waste.
In an attempt to gather details to strengthen his case against the IRS and its television studio, Boustany became aware of a couple parody videos produced by the IRS at a combined cost of $6o,000, and he wrote a letter to the IRS demanding that the videos be made public. The IRS has admitted the existence of the videos and confirmed that they are indeed parodies of the old TV shows Gilligan’s Island and Star Trek, but the IRS has so far refused to release them to Boustany.
I’d be interested in seeing the videos too, although I admit it would be more out of morbid curiosity than anything else. I feel like I’ve been shown a teaser for a movie that I’ll never get to see. It’s easy to see both sides of the issue:
PROS: The production studio is necessary because the IRS has been able to create a popular collection of YouTube videos that are valuable for educating the taxpaying public. The studio also provides a means for training and educating IRS employees through visual media, which is often less expensive than flying employees here and there for meetings in different cities. Humor is an effective tool in training meetings.
CONS: Besides a few key videos (for example, one showing how to check the status of a refund, and one showing how to get your tax return prepared for free) the IRS YouTube videos are really not all that popular, so how much they actually help educate the general public is highly questionable. High quality videos are fine in the right economic climate, but we just don’t have the money for this kind of thing right now. Training videos don’t have to be entertaining.
You know, if an IRS employee can’t stay tuned into a regular boring video, then maybe they’re not the right person for the job because bean counting can be pretty boring too.