The cost of paperwork and record-keeping for America's small-business owners is an estimated $48.72 per hour, according a report by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). Its poll, “Paperwork and Record Keeping,” shows that the per-hour cost of paperwork changes dramatically by subject matter — from $74.24 per hour for tax-related to $36.20 per hour for maintenance.

“It's no surprise that paperwork and record keeping continues to represent a major aggravation for small-business owners,” said Senior Research Fellow Denny Dennis of the NFIB Research Foundation. “They spend significant amounts of money and personal time to keep up with paperwork demands, despite the positive impact computerization has had on record keeping.”

Computerization continues to play an important role in reducing paperwork time and cost, but the typical small-business owner tends to use a blend of electronic and paper record keeping. Less than 10 percent of small-business owners use paper exclusively, but only a handful use only electronic means.

Overall, the cost of paperwork varies by subject matter and who completes it. The more paperwork that must be sent out, the more expensive it is. The per-hour cost of paperwork for owners of larger small-firms is higher because they are more likely to send the paperwork to outside professionals. They often choose to outsource the work because the value of the time they spend on paperwork is on average more expensive.

The report is available to download at www.nfib.com/PDFs/sbpoll/sbpoll12_2003.pdf.

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