May 31st, 2013
06:47 PM ET
10 years ago

First on CNN: IRS on defense over employee dance video

Updated 8:40 p.m. ET Friday 5/31

(CNN) – A newly obtained video has the IRS running damage control on a new front, as the embattled agency prepares for the release next week of an inspector general report that will be critical of how money was spent on staff conferences.

In the video, an apparent team-building exercise, employees are taught the Cupid Shuffle dance move as they prepare to present the dance as a group at a 2010 conference.

The IRS said Friday night the video "was unacceptable and an inappropriate use of government funds."

The video's narrator describes the group of individuals as executives from the Small Business/Self Employed (SBSE) department. They say they’re competing "to become the next great dance sensation."

The IRS said the video cost $1,600 to produce, and it played at the end of a 2010 leadership and education meeting in Anaheim for 2,600 managers in the SBSE division.

"The meeting took place at a time where the IRS needed to ensure that managers had proper training to address significant new programs, major staff turnover and a substantial increase in security threats following the suicide attack on an IRS facility in Austin earlier in the year," the IRS said in a statement.

Throughout the nearly-three minute video, the employees poke fun at each other as they try to learn the dance moves.

The new video comes as the IRS takes heat over its admitted targeting of conservative groups who sought tax exempt status.

Next week, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) will release an audit showing excess spending at the IRS conference.

The IRS has already come under scrutiny for Star Trek and Gilligan’s Island-themed training videos it produced that costs tens of thousands of dollars. The Star Trek video, reported earlier this year, played at the same conference as the dance video.

“And I thought doing the Star Trek video was humiliating,” one woman says in the new video.

In fact, one of the employees in the Star Trek video was also in the new dancing spot.

Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel, appointed in recent weeks, said in a statement that the report will focus on an IRS conference that took place in 2010 and labeled it an "unfortunate vestige from a prior era."

"While there were legitimate reasons for holding the meeting, many of the expenses associated with it were inappropriate and should not have occurred," he said, adding new rules have been put in place and such a conference will not happen under his watch.

Last year, the General Services Administration drew fierce congressional criticism and scrutiny for spending nearly $1 million on a conference in Las Vegas, also in 2010, that featured a controversial video and ultimately resulted in the resignation of its administrator.

Filed under: IRS
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Kay

    Let them dance! Working for the IRS, they deserve a few minutes of fun.

    May 31, 2013 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  2. Cephus

    Flat tax rate is the solution and discard this good for nothing cayman system.

    May 31, 2013 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  3. Wes


    May 31, 2013 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  4. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Quick! Ban the congressional softball game as a waste of taxpayer money!! In fact, make them ACTUALLY WORK for their pay for a change!

    May 31, 2013 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  5. tompinch

    The IRS is filled with overpaid, underworked, partisan hacks (in a supposedly non-partisan government agency) ... but it's good to know that at least they're working hard on their dance moves!

    May 31, 2013 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  6. Jean2

    Maybe "A GROUP BUILDING ACTIVITY" could work with our dysfunctional congress!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 31, 2013 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  7. bombastus

    Gimme a break. $1600 to help build morale and have a little fun is money well spent.Gotta spend a little fo mental health. Even before the scandal, these folks were likely to be reluctant to tell anyone they work for the IRS. Everyone hates the the IRS. The gotta have some pressure release. This is digging very deep to find a problem.

    May 31, 2013 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  8. Dave in Arizona

    Well, I've never been one for dancing or forced team spirit, but at the same time: government jobs are still jobs. If we expect people that work for the government to be efficient then it makes sense for them to participate in the same kind of programs that companies across the country invest in.

    If the private sector thinks that productivity is ultimately improved by an investment like this, wouldn't we be fools not to make the same investment of our tax money?

    May 31, 2013 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  9. Vence

    IRS and Obama are in big doo-doo this time!

    May 31, 2013 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  10. wmontanye

    Are you kidding me......... Talk about petty.. Next thing you know they will have a video of the president walking on the wrong side of the road. Some people are way over paid for not doing their jobs.

    May 31, 2013 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  11. sonnie3

    Our Bloated government, run by liberals at work???
    No wonder we are in debt up to our eye balls!

    May 31, 2013 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  12. Impeachment is an Option

    When the fish is rotten at the head, so goes the body!

    May 31, 2013 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  13. Evergreen

    Monsanto...Monsanto...Monsanto! We have real problems people. Forget these petty distractions.

    May 31, 2013 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  14. BethesdaDog

    You think this bad, someone should check the SEC.

    May 31, 2013 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  15. Bill from GA

    Bush, Cheney, and their Ruthless Gang, waste trillions of dollars, thousands of American Lives, hundreds of thousands of Americans wounded, hundreds of thousands of Iraquis killed, empower our enemies, and, BTW, destroy a country and a fragile balance of power in a critical part of the world, and we are supposed to get upset over THIS???

    June 1, 2013 03:20 am at 3:20 am |
  16. Bill from GA

    But Gather Round, Republicans!!!

    There's Another Scandle a brewing!!

    Call out the House Investigating Committee!!

    Wake up Issa!!! This is URGENT!!!

    June 1, 2013 03:31 am at 3:31 am |
  17. Anonymous

    Wow a whipping $1600! How this kind of trivial things become a national news is that shows the 24 hr news cycle is hurting America. This is a very good example of scandal mining and a distraction from the things that matters

    June 1, 2013 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  18. USA-Voice-It

    Truly unbelievable! Lets reduce the power of IRS by bring a flat tax to America.

    June 1, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  19. Gt

    Your tax dollars at work.....sequester

    June 1, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  20. Just a thought

    An absolute drop in the bucket for the cheating that's gone on prior to President Obama. You think this is the first time these agencies has engaged in this type of activity? Ok got some beach front property for you in Arizona

    June 1, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  21. Data Driven


    I congratulate you on being a millionaire. But for working people like me, a flat tax would be economically devastating. The rich - like you, presumably - have more money; therefore, you should pay more taxes to keep this ridiculous little society we have going. And that's that.

    Pay your taxes, rich conservatives.

    June 1, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |