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census, social security, income tax forms, et cetera, are running into increasing public resistance all the time. And, right away, let me say that the average citizen wants to obey the laws, but the Federal agencies in Washington and some State and local government agencies, as well—are making it increasingly difficult for all of us to be law-abiding citizens.
In a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives last February, in discussing the Internal Revenue Service, I said that many of us are disappointed with recent developments in the tax collection mechanism. We expected and we had a right to expect that electronic data processing or EDP, for short, would greatly reduce the paperwork flow, and also result in substantial manpower savings. Instead, we find that the Internal Revenue Service has increased its employment by 13,000 since 1960, and its paperwork load is now over 500 million forms a year. Moreover, the cost of collecting $100 in taxes has risen more than 30 percent since 1960. So now we begin to see what all the shouting is about and why this subcommittee is conductting these hearings.
The Internal Revenue Service is not the only agency which appears to have gone overboard in the sea of paper. Our staff has listed some 20 other Federal agencies which are also deeply involved in this paperwork game. The activities of these agencies cover everything from the clearance of vessels in and out of our ports to the economic problems of the Blackfeet and Flathead Indians in my district in Montana. Our subcommittee recently published a report with a 40page list of studies and surveys sponsored by the Federal agencies including everything from how to guess your weight to the size of frozen french-fried potatoes and whether they should be straight cut or crinkled.
Now, beginning on May 19 in Washington, we plan to call in the key Federal agencies responsible for generating most of this paperwork. We will ask them to tell us what controls or clearance procedures they use in the agency to hold down the paperwork and explain to us why these controls are not more effective. We will want to know how it is that some of these empire builders and paper pushers in the agencies always seem to come out on top and, if necessary, we will craft remedial legislation to stop some of these abuses. In summary, I can tell you that this subcommittee means business and it looks like a "long, hot summer" in Washington.
Of course, they are all long and hot.
I want to say again that we are here at the invitation and suggestion of Congressman O'Brien. He has worked long and hard on the subject of the paperwork problems that are pushed upon the citizen. He has been very enthusiastic for a long time now in our work and has helped us with it. We are delighted that he would have us come to Albany, the capital city of the State which is the center of commerce of the world, and it is a place where we would be able to hear from the ordinary-sized business instead of going to a much larger city and being engulfed by just the giant businesses.
We want to hear from the rank-and-file citizens and the business people of this size city. We thank you again, Mr. O'Brien, for having us here.
Mr. JOHANSEN. I want to associate myself with what you said, and particularly to express my esteem for our very fine and able colleague, Congressman O'Brien, and testify to that esteem in the presence of his constituents in this district.
I also associate myself most emphatically with the purposes of this subcommittee and with the urgent need of bringing under control, and we hope curbing, some of the competencies in this area of paperwork.
Mr. OLSEN. Thank you, Mr. Johansen.
STATEMENT OF HON. LEO W. O'BRIEN, REPRESENTATIVE IN THE
CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, FROM THE 29TH DISTRICT, STATE OF NEW YORK
Mr. O'BRIEN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Johansen, for your kind words, but particularly for coming to this particular area. I know that the people of this area are most grateful, not only for the honor of your presence, but because they feel very strongly on this subject.
I think your wisdom is very sound in coming to a smaller city. As you said, in New York City you would be engulfed. Here, we who represent the district are aware of the identity of the people as well as of their problems.
And we do have in this area a cross section of practically every field of endeavor which is being engulfed by this paper blizzard, with the possible exception, as far as the witnesses today are concerned, of agriculture. But we have some of that, too, as I find out each year when the farm bill is before us in Washington.
I think that perhaps you have experienced this more than I, that there is a feeling of futility on the part of many businessmen when a committee of Congress says we are going to do something about paperwork. They have come to assume that, like Topsy, it is just going to grow and grow.
I have attempted to assure my friends in this area that this committee, as you expressed it so well, means business. I think that we all realize that this is not an antigovernment community because we are in the midst of a large State government. We know that government has to have certain information, some information that helps business, some information that is required to enforce our laws. But I think what they resent more than anything else, if their complaints to me are to be a barometer of that, is the duplication of effort.
I would think if your distinguished committee could accomplish nothing more than to force some of the agencies of the Federal Government by statute or direction, and agencies of other government by pressure from the body politic and from what we do in Washington, to share some of their paper secrets instead of each city on its own
mountain of paper, never reading it I guess, and never sharing it.
We have had an example in this State of where a little sharing of this paper wealth can be advantageous. It used to be that when you prepared your Federal income tax then you thought, “Good heavens, I have to do that all over again for the State." But they have worked out an agreement here where, after the laborious job of filling out your Federal forms, in a very few minutes, if you are an ordinary taxpayer, you can fill out the State form. That will be covered in a statement later on by the president of the head of the State tax commission here.
But there is an example. If that and that alone were done by each of the 50 States, just think of the number of tons of pressure that would be lifted from the backs of not only businessmen but taxpayers generally.
So I say that if we have got to have paperwork, let's share the wealth and let's let the right hand know once in a while what the left hand is doing.
I would like to say with your permission, Mr. Chairman, not directly to you but to the people who are here today, that we in Congress happen to know that this is not just a 1-day visit to Albany, to be followed by a 1-day visit to Chicago, and perhaps later on to one other city. But that this will supply the cement for the bricks that you have already established in your dealings with the Federal agencies down there, and that they might be surprised very well a year from now or 2 years from now to find out that some very major reforms affecting every one of these people, large and small, have been accomplished by this very able committee.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Olsen. Thank you very much, Mr. O'Brien. Do you have any questions?
Mr. JOHANSEN. No questions, except I want to commend the gentleman on the very, very fine statement, and a very fine summation of exactly what our interests and hopes and purposes are.
Mr. OLSEN. In that regard I want to say that I am reminded by your remarks that the efforts of this committee have already been rewarded by activities in many agencies. The principal one is the Inter
state Commerce Commission, where they have eliminated many thousands of reports at the suggestion and because of the efforts of this committee in regard to their business.
Mr. O'Brien, if you are through being a witness, we would like to have you join us as part of our committee and receive the remainder of these witnesses.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Thank you very much. Your kindness runneth over.
Mr. OLSEN. The next witness is Gen. George Hunt, of the Schenectady Automobile Dealers. STATEMENT OF GEN. GEORGE HUNT, SCHENECTADY AUTOMOBILE
DEALERS, SCHENECTADY, N.Y. Mr. HUNT. May I read a statement !
Mr. OLSEN. You certainly may. Proceed as you will. We are delighted to have you here cooperating with us.
Mr. Hunt. Thank you very much. May I say, gentlemen, that I do not represent any particular group. I speak only for myself as a small businessman. I realize that many reports from business people at the retail level are necessary in the operation of the Government.
My complaint is to the number and the increasing frequency that some reports are required. To be more specific, form 941 is a report that must be filed quarterly and has to do with Federal withholding taxes and social security. This requires 15 man-hours overtime per quarter. I refer, of course, to our own small business.
Form 940 is a Federal unemployment tax report which must be filed annually and requires some 3 man-hours of overtime.
Form W-2 is a report of employee earnings. This must be filed annually and requires some 20 to 25 man-hours of overtime work.
The reports mentioned so far are all necessary and we do not complain of the cost or the effort of supplying such information. The main point of contention in our case is a report required by the Bureau of Census, U.S. Department of Commerce. This report requires daily compiling of all our sales of new cars, used cars, parts and accessories at retail and at wholesale, sales of services, financing charges, and any sales tax collected.
The report mentioned above follows :)
Form Approved: Budget Bureau No. 41-R2102
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
BUREAU OF THE CENSUS RETAIL TRADE REPORT
b. Subtotal (JAN. 1-4)
Sales for the week
Dec. 29, 1963 through
Jan. 4, 1964
(Omit conte) Mail the entire pad to the CENSUS REGIONAL OFFICE along with this completed report.