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Off The Hook

Heard On The Street

This story appears in the August 1998 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

It could happen to any small-business owner: forgetting to submit a crucial piece of federal paperwork. Whether it's a form permitting the IRS to automatically withdraw taxes from an employee's checking account, COBRA insurance information or another federal form, an error of omission can mean hefty federal fines.

That could change, though, if the Small Business Paperwork Reduction Act passes. The bill (S.1867) would take small businesses off the hook for first-time federal paperwork violations if they send in the missing paperwork up to six months after they're found out of compliance. The bill, which at press time was headed for the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, is sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME); the House version (H.R. 3310), sponsored by Rep. David McIntosh (R-IN), passed in March.

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