Administrative Cost

Administrative Cost Laser Talk

Question:  Isn’t it going to cost a lot to administer the Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act?

Answer:  No. The straightforward design keeps costs very low compared to other federal programs like the IRS and Social Security. Collecting the fee is streamlined because there are already tax collection processes in place for the fee-paying companies, and there are a limited number of them. Sending the carbon cash back payments to households is relatively simple because every adult gets the same amount, as does every child; names and addresses come from existing tax records; there is no need for complicated means testing; and over 90 percent of the payments can be handled through electronic bank deposits. [1]

Real-world experience from abroad supports the view that administrative costs of collecting carbon fees are low, with reported costs between 0.1 and 1 percent of revenue. [2]

CCL has made a detailed estimate by comparing the IRS budget of $11.4 billion [3] with similar functions in a carbon fee and dividend program. For completeness, we considered startup costs, amortization period, population growth, [4] and a revenue forecast based on the emissions reduction schedule specified in the Act. [5]

This gave us annual administrative costs of about $4 to $5 billion per year, which is about 6.8 percent of revenues in year one, but as revenues grow along with the fee, it drops to only about 1.7 percent by year 10. It does rise again as emissions get very low, cutting the carbon fees that are collected, but will be phased out when adult dividends fall consistently below $20 per month.

The Act’s administrative costs would be taken from program revenues, so there is no additional cost to American taxpayers.

In a Nutshell: By design, the administrative costs of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act will be quite low so that every American gets a fair share of the carbon cash collected from fossil fuel companies. We estimate that over the lifetime of the policy, running the program will cost two percent of the carbon fees collected, with the remaining 98 percent paid out to American households.

  1. Lerman, A.H. “Paying Dividends From Carbon Fee Revenue To American Residents.” Working Paper commissioned by CCL (updated Oct 2017).
  2. Carl, J. and D. Fedor. “Tracking global carbon revenues: A survey of carbon taxes versus cap-and-trade in the real world.” Energy Policy 96, 50-77. (Sep 2018).
  3. “Budget in Brief – Internal Revenue Service FY2018.” (Mar 2018).
  4. “2014 National Population Projections Tables.” U.S. Census Bureau (2014).
  5. “H.R.2307 – Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2021.” Library of Congress (01 Apr 2021).

This page was last updated on 05/05/21 at 14:50 CDT.