IRS Employee Used Government Charge Card to Buy Amazon Prime Membership

By Staff | October 25, 2018 | 5:14pm EDT
U.S. Treasury (Screen Capture)

( - An Internal Revenue Service employee used a federal government charge card to purchase an Amazon Prime membership, according to a report released by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

There are 2,562 IRS employees who have government charge cards, according to TIGTA, and in the six-month period from Oct. 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018, they used those cards to make 16,980 purchases, spending $6.12 million in taxpayer dollars.

The IRS, which is required to issue a report every six months listing “employee purchase card violations,” did not list the employee’s purchase of the Amazon Prime membership during the period in question (Oct. 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018).

However, when TIGTA reviewed the IRS transaction it determined that the Amazon Prime membership purchase was “inappropriate.”

In the six cases during the period that the IRS did decide there had been misuse of a government charge card only one employee was subjected to a five-day suspension. Another employee was given “oral counseling.” The other four cases, according to TIGTA, “were closed without any personnel actions taken.”

Here is the passage from a July 27, 2018 TIGTA report where the inspector general summarizes these cases of charge card misuse by IRS employees:

“TIGTA found that the IRS identified six instance of confirmed purchase card misuse for the period of October 1, 2017, through March 31, 2018. The six confirmed purchase card misuse cases collectively totaled $317 and included items purchased for personal use such as sanitizing wipes, a memory foam seat cushion, and over-the-counter medication. None of the items were returned for credit, and the cardholders have not reimbursed the Government.

“An additional six instances of suspected purchase card misuse were referred to Labor Relations by the CCS [Credit Card Services] Branch for review. Labor Relations reported that no purchase card violations had occurred for all six cases. However, our independent review indicates that the transactions in two of these instance were not appropriate and should have been identified by Labor Relations and the cardholder’s manager as reportable violations for the purposes of the Purchase Card Violations Report. The two purchases had a value of $216 and included items such as a cardholder Amazon Prime membership and Kleenex towels.

“With respect to disciplinary actions taken by IRS management in response to the six confirmed cases, an employee received a five-day suspension in one case. For one of the remaining five cases, the IRS took nondisciplinary actions (oral counseling). The remaining four cases were closed without any personnel actions taken.”

Below is a screen capture of the passage from TIGTA's audit report summarizing the inappropriate uses of government charge cards by IRS employees--and how the IRS responded to them:



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