Investigation shows IRS workers using government credit cards for personal purchases

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WASHINGTON —

Channel 2 Action News has reviewed another potential black eye for the IRS.

The IRS is already dealing with a scandal after revelations it was targeting tea party groups with extra scrutiny.

Now Channel 2's Scott MacFarlane reports 1,000 agency workers are under scrutiny for misusing their government-issued purchase cards in 2010 and 2011, potentially using those cards for personal, inappropriate purchases.

Though the internal investigators declined to say what exactly was purchased, MacFarlane has done a series of investigations into recent misuse of government credit cards at other agencies.

MacFarlane tried to track down a former U.S. Energy Department worker, who used his card for $10,000 in unauthorized purchases, including gas for his personal car.

MacFarlane found some employees of the Homeland Security Department recently accused of using their cards for everything from men's suits to electronics and gifts from Nordstrom.

IRS workers squandering tax money with these cards seems particularly ironic and dangerous says former federal worker Gretchen Hamel, who once was authorized to use a government debit card. Hamel is director of Public Notice, a DC-based group monitoring government waste.

"You made sure you documented everything" Hamel said. "We were being held accountable and you weren't going to get your money if you didn't have your receipts."

The IRS said it'll beef up its system to better stop inappropriate purchases by its employees by the end of August.

You might be surprised by how many local workers hold and use these government purchase cards. And not just at the IRS.

MacFarlane checked into how many Atlanta-area workers hold and use government purchase cards.

He found there are more than 60 employees carrying purchase cards at the FAA alone.

An IRS spokesman told us MacFarlane in a statement, "Though the vast majority of cardholders used their travel cards in an appropriate manner and paid their bills on time, the IRS appreciates (the internal investigators') recommendations and we have already implemented a number of them, including monitoring daily ATM limits."