IRS Spends $80 Million with Credit Cards: Legitimacy of Purchases Cannot be Verified

Yet another TIGTA audit has brought to light deficiencies in the Internal Revenue Service. This time the problems relate to the use of IRS-issued credit cards that are made available to certain IRS employees. Purchases on these cards are supposed to be tightly regulated. But TIGTA found that many of the restrictions on these cards have been ignored, and management has failed to take corrective action when violations have been found.

The cards are meant for purchases under $3,000 — purchases over this amount are governed by a separate set of internal controls. Furthermore, card purchases must not be made without prior managerial approval. TIGTA found significant violations in both areas. The $3,000 limit rule is regularly circumvented by splitting up purchases into two transactions. Improper credit card purchases are not always detected because the IRS lacks sufficient management controls. Instead of asking for more funding and more staff for collections, the IRS really needs to keep a better eye on how they are spending the money they do have.

TIGTA’s review covered the period of September 2007 – March 2009. Here are the key stats:

  • 4,270 credit card holders within IRS
  • 1,024 approving IRS officials
  • 16 different IRS business units
  • 174,000 purchases
  • purchases totaling $80 million

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