When Ben Carson took on the Housing and Urban Development Department, he got more than he bargained for, not only had the chief administrators refused to sign off the books for financial year 2016, but also there were over $516 Billion dollars in accounting errors that had to be identified and fixed.
The Inspector General; office first looked at the 2016 records in December and were met with hostility and resistance, and non-cooperation. The HUD held out on signing off until they were given a three month extension to fix their books. Like any American institution, they are expected to follow GAAP for bookkeeping.
To give some perspective: in 2015, bookkeeping errors totaled $3.5 Billion (not a small amount certainly, but well within the range of government incompetence), and 2016 was $516 Billion, over half a Trillion dollars.
Many are questioning whether or not Obama and Clinton were using money from this Department to build an election war chest, and that they expected to win and cover it up. But with trump’s surprise victory, the department had to beg for another 3 months in which to hide the money.
It’s rather easy to demonstrate that government agencies are riddled with double-standards and inconsistencies, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the way in which these agencies handle money and account for it.
Put another way, if we approached the preparation of our income taxes the same way the government runs its finances and does accounting, we would be facing penalties from here to doomsday. It takes a lot of gall for an organization as irresponsible with its accounting as are many government agencies to lecture citizens on keeping proper records.
Naturally, that’s exactly what they do. Otherwise the whole income tax system would collapse. Happily, Ben Carson is taking action against accounting “errors” in his department, and it is stunning to see what he has uncovered.
According to the Daily Caller, “Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) financial books are in bad shape … HUD’s Inspector General (IG) can’t complete an audit even after HUD officials corrected $520 billion in bookkeeping errors, according to a new IG report.”
Let that number sink in. One-half trillion dollars in “bookkeeping errors.” Pick a word to describe that – we’re fresh out of ideas.
The story continues: “Officials at HUD fixed $3.4 billion in errors from its 2015 books and $516.4 billion in December was unable to issue an opinion on either year’s financial statements and highlighted 11 material weaknesses, seven significant deficiencies and five instants of failure to comply with laws and regulations.”
What is maddening is that when business leaders conduct their firms’ finances like this there are consequences. Either the business goes broke, fines are imposed, or people go to jail. Individuals who are either incompetent or otherwise play things fast and loose with their taxes can expect similar results.
Yet the same government that enforces these tax regulations and laws either cannot or will not abide by the same rules or conduct its own finances with the integrity it demands of its citizens.
The best advice at this point as you approach this year’s tax deadline if you’ve yet to complete and file your taxes is that you not think of this story as you sort through that box of receipts.