In our state and federal governments there are many hidden taxes,
but they pale in comparison to other regulatory compliance costs
imposed upon business and the public by their bureaucracies.
President George W. Bush's budget presented to Congress this year
totaled an almost incalculable $1.96 trillion.
That amount comes from taxes of all sorts and is for on-budget
Another estimated $788 billion is added to the costs of
businesses and the public in the form of compliance with federal
rules and regulations.
These costs are equal to about 85 percent of the 2000 individual
income taxes estimated at $951.6 billion.
Think about that for a minute.
Nearly half again as much money as the total tax revenues result
from federal regulatory compliance requirements. This doesn't
include the cost of compliance with state and local government rules
Many state regulations are enacted as a result of federal
mandates, but additional ones also are imposed.
In fact, state and local entities are subject to federal
regulatory compliance costs. This often leads to the need for
increased taxes or higher costs for some governmental services that
are supplied at their levels.
These regulatory compliance costs are hidden taxes that go
unacknowledged from year to year as they grow with each succeeding
This appalling aspect of federal regulatory costs is outlined in
the 2001 Edition of Ten Thousand Commandments, an Annual
Policymaker's Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State. It is
written by Clyde Wayne Crews Jr. for the Washington D.C., based
Competitive Enterprise Institute. That is a nonprofit, nonpartisan
public policy group dedicated to the principle of free enterprise.
Crews is an adjunct scholar at the institute and director of
technology studies at the Cato Institute, where he studies Internet
and technology regulation, antitrust and other regulatory reforms.
He received his MBA from the College of William and Mary.
To emphasize the urgency of the problem he points out the 2000
Federal Register, where rules and regulations are published,
contained 74,258 pages. That was the highest level since Jimmy
Carter's presidency. In the Oklahoma Register for 2000, there were
more than 6,000 pages, most of which were devoted to rules and
Crews explains that the number of pages doesn't necessarily allow
one to conclude whether actual regulatory burdens have increased or
By isolating those pages applying specifically to final rules, it
is much more informative. Through this procedure he determined that
pages in the Federal Register devoted to final rules have increased
46 percent since 1991. He attributes some portion of this increase
in 2000 to last-minute rules established by outgoing President Bill
Federal agencies issued 4,300 final rules in 2000. This was a
drop of 4 percent from the previous year. Still, there were 4,699
regulations at various stages of implementation, an increase of 3.5
percent. If all are approved, the additional regulatory burden on
businesses and the public will total another $15.8 billion.
Crews adds that of the 4,699 rules in progress, 1,054 would
impact small business. That's an increase of 9 percent from the
previous year and 40 percent in the past five years.
His report notes the average two-earner family with after-tax
income of $41,846 pays 18 percent or $7,410 annually for regulatory
costs imbedded in their other expenditures. …