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Inflation-Based Adjustments in Federal Civil Monetary Penalties


James Ming Chen


Michigan State University - College of Law

September 18, 2012

University of Louisville School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2012-16

Abstract:     
Civil monetary penalties play a vital role in federal law. The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, Pub. L. No. 101-410, prescribes rules for the regular adjustment of federal civil monetary penalties in response to inflation. Three statutory defects have undermined the Inflation Adjustment Act. First, the Act's 10 percent cap on initial adjustments creates an "inflation gap" relative to the level that would properly reflect inflation. Second, the Act directs federal agencies to use Consumer Price Index data that are at least 7 months and as many as 18 months out of date. This creates "CPI lag" in the adjustment of civil monetary penalties. Third, the Act's rounding rules can force some agencies to wait 15 years or more between adjustments.

This report for the Administrative Conference of the United States examines the Inflation Adjustment Act and recommends possible legislative remedies for the Act's defects.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 58

Keywords: inflation, CPI, consumer price index, cost of living, civil monetary penalties, administrative law, Inflation Adjustment Act

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Date posted: September 18, 2012 ; Last revised: December 12, 2012

Suggested Citation

Chen, James Ming, Inflation-Based Adjustments in Federal Civil Monetary Penalties (September 18, 2012). University of Louisville School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2012-16. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2148650 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2148650

Contact Information

James Ming Chen (Contact Author)
Michigan State University - College of Law ( email )
318 Law College Building
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300
United States
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