NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Excess Government Fees

March 31, 1999

The Food and Drug Administration, the Commerce Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulatory agencies all charge the public fees for different goods and services they sell. And in many cases the government requires the public to buy these same goods and services.

Moreover, the fees are often many times higher than the costs involved in administering the regulations. This means that the excess is a form of tax.

Nowhere is the process more obvious than SEC charges.

  • The agency's total revenue from fees last year came to $1.7 billion -- yet it spent only $301 million.
  • In fiscal 2000, the amount anticipated from Section 31 fees -- the sums the SEC collects whenever an investor sells stocks -- is $622 million, or some $159 million more than the SEC's budget.
  • Throughout the government, fees and returns from asset sales totaled $12.3 billion.
  • Economists contend that such sums are being used to mask the real size of the federal budget.

Reps. Vito Fossella (R-N.Y.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) have introduced a bill to end the collection of Section 31 fees once enough has been collected to cover the SEC's budget.

Source: Editorial, "A Giant Sucking Sound," Investor's Business Daily, March 31, 1999.


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