Your chance to cut red tape

Want to re-write the federal regulations that affect your business? Then take a look at the SBA’s Regulatory Review and Reform Initiative. The idea is that you can tell the government how to fix burdensome or outdated rules. The agency announced today that it’s taking suggestions for rules to change through the end of 2008.

There’s lots of rhetoric about how regulations burden small businesses. “Unreasonable government regulations” was the sixth most important of the 75 issues on the NFIB’s small business priorities survey released in June (PDF is here). While the current Wall Street meltdown has some people rethinking the role government should play in the marketplace, there are no doubt obscure rules that could be fixed to ease the burden on small businesses while still protecting consumers.

Last year small business owners and trade associations nominated 80 rules, and the SBA picked 10 to review. You can track the status of those rules here. One proposal, for example, calls on the IRS to simplify the home-office deduction, which the agency is considering. That change would save about half of all small business owners time doing their taxes.

Many of the rules picked were already under review, and most were nominated by trade associations rather than directly by business owners. This is only the second year of the program, so it’s not clear yet how effective it is, given how long it takes to revise a federal regulation. (Think years, not months.) But for anyone who has railed against an unreasonable rule or bureaucratic roadblock, now is your chance to tell the government how to fix it.

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