Obama Signs “Plain Writing Act of 2010” into Law

On October 14, President Obama signed H.R. 946, the Plain Writing Act of 2010 (the “Act”) into law. The Act requires all government agencies, including the IRS, to draft “covered” public documents in “plain writing.”

“Covered” documents include documents that – (i) are necessary for obtaining any Federal Government benefit or service or filing taxes; (ii) provide information about any Federal Government benefit or service; or (iii) explain to the public how to comply with a requirement the Federal Government administers or enforces. Further, the definition of “covered document” explicitly includes letters, publications, forms, notices, and instructions, but explicitly excludes “regulations.” Lawmakers defined “plain writing” as language that “is clear, concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices appropriate to the subject or field and intended audience.” The Act requires compliance by government agencies within 1 year of enactment.

While the Act was approved by a vast majority in the House and Senate, there is some concern that implementation of the Act will be too difficult, causing it to become virtually unenforceable. However, pushing public access to simple, understandable versions of government documents clearly furthers a laudable cause.

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Roger Royse

Roger Royse, the founder of the Royse Law Firm, works with companies ranging from newly formed tech startups to publicly traded multinationals in a variety of industries. Roger regularly advises on complex tax structuring, high stakes business negotiations and large international financial transactions. Practicing business and tax law since 1984, Roger’s background includes work with prominent San Francisco Bay area law firms, as well as Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy in New York City.
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