Hidden “Taxes” Cost Families 20 Percent of Income

Washington, DC, January 22, 1998 — Federal regulations cost taxpayers $688 billion in 1997, over 40 percent more than the size of the entire budget, according to a new report to be released Thursday by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). According to the study, Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Policymaker’s Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State, the regulatory state’s annual costs exceed corporate pretax profits, as well as individual income taxes.

The paper will be released on February 5th at a roundtable discussion with the author, Clyde Wayne Crews, CEI Fellow in Regulatory Studies.

Release of Ten Thousand Commandments2:00pm – 3:30pm1001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Ste. 1250 (entrance on K St.)Contact: Emily McGee, 202-331-1010

“Regulations cost the typical family $6,800 in 1997,” writes Crews, “almost 20 percent of the after-tax budget. More is spent on regulation than on medical expenses, food, transportation, recreation, clothing, and savings.”

The paper points to the risk that new government programs will increasingly be funded by more off-budget regulations as opposed to new taxes or deficit spending. Congress is not held responsible for the cost of these new regulations. Some of the findings of the study include:

  • Federal Register page counts are on the rise, despite a mid-decade slow down, mostly attributed to the partial government shutdown and the GOP led Congress;
  • Agencies issued 4,937 final rules in the 1996 Federal Register, the most since 1984;
  • New rules affecting small businesses have increased 10 percent since 1993;
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expects to issue 430 of the 4,407 new rules in the 1997 Federal Register;

“The most important reforms to control the unaccountable regulatory enterprise are to make regulatory costs (like taxes) as transparent to the public as possible, and to ensure that Congress bears direct responsibility to voters for every dollar of new regulatory cost,” stated Crews. “The rampant delegation of legislative power to unelected agencies must end.”

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan research and advocacy institute dedicated to the principles of free markets and limited government. For more information, or to obtain the study, contact Emily McGee at 202-331-1010.