NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Regulation Day

April 20, 2011

Every year we are reminded how much money the government filches from us on Tax Day.  However, there is no equivalent "Regulation Day" to remind us the extra cost government imposes on us through regulation, says Iain Murray, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

  • Regulations cost $1.75 trillion in compliance costs, according to the Small Business Administration.
  • That's greater than the record federal budget deficit -- projected at $1.48 trillion for FY 2011 -- and greater even than all corporate pretax profits.

According to a survey of the cost and compliance burden imposed by federal regulations:

  • The Federal Register stands at an all-time record-high 81,405 pages.
  • In 2010, federal agencies issued 3,573 final rules.
  • Of the 4,225 rules now in the regulatory pipeline, 224 are "economically significant" meaning they wield at least $100 million in economic impact -- this is an increase of 22 percent over 2009's 184 rules.
  • Given 2010's government spending (outlays) of $3.456 trillion, the regulatory "hidden tax" of $1.75 trillion stands at an unprecedented 50.7 percent of the level of federal spending itself.
  • Regulatory costs dwarf corporate income taxes of $157 billion.
  • Regulatory costs are nearly double the level of estimated 2010 individual income taxes ($936 billion).
  • Regulatory costs of $1.75 trillion absorb 11.9 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), estimated at $14.649 trillion in 2010.
  • Combining regulatory costs with federal FY 2010 outlays of $3.456 trillion reveals a federal government whose share of the entire economy now reaches 35.5 percent.

Source: Iain Murray, "There Is No 'Regulation Day' to Remind Us How Much They Cost," National Review, April 18, 2011. Wayne Crews, "Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State," Competitive Enterprise Institute, April 15, 2011.

For text:

For study:


Browse more articles on Tax and Spending Issues