The Commerce Department will throw you in jail for not filling out this survey

June 1, 2015
Santiago, Chile

Chances are that you’ve never heard of the International Investment and Trade in Services Survey Act that was originally passed nearly 40 years ago.

And chances are you didn’t catch the November 20, 2014 edition of the ‘Federal Register’, the US government’s daily opus of new rules and regulations that ran 331 pages that day.

So, chances are, you have no idea that the Department of Commerce might just want to throw you in jail right now. I’ll explain.

Back in 1976, Congress decided that they needed more information on US companies’ international trade activities.

So they passed a law requiring the Department of Commerce to survey the biggest businesses in America to find out more about what they were doing abroad.

These days, the survey is conducted every five years. And like most surveys it’s a bunch of useless bureaucratic drivel that only wastes the time of the poor souls who have to fill it out.

Now it’s something that can get you thrown in jail.

Late last year the Commerce Department quietly published a new ‘rule’ in the Federal Register requiring every American with certain investments abroad to fill out their survey, regardless of whether or not they were notified.

In other words, you’re just supposed to know that you have to fill out this form.

And if you don’t, the penalties are severe.

For the first time ever the government is imposing both civil and CRIMINAL penalties for non-compliance.

The fine for not filling out the survey (known as BE-10) ranges from $2,500 all the way to $25,000.

And if they think you intentionally didn’t file, you “may be imprisoned for not more than one year.”

Either way, even if you had no earthly idea and had never heard of this survey, they reserve the right to seek “injunctive relief commanding such person to comply.”

So if you don’t fill out the form, they’ll get a judge to order you to comply.

This really borders on insanity.

The federal government of the United States of America… the Land of the Free... is willing to clog up the court system to either force people to fill out a survey, or to prosecute them for not doing so.

Forget about rapists, murderers, and thieves. The government’s priority is to imprison people who don’t fill out surveys.

What’s really amazing is that your elected representatives in Congress weren’t the ones to enact these absurd criminal penalties.

The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) did this all on its own. They simply created a new ‘rule’, then buried it under hundreds of pages of other regulations.

And even though Congress never even sees them, and no reasonable person has ever heard of them, these rules have the same weight and effect as the law.

So much for representative democracy.

Two important questions come to mind:

1) How many other rules that carry criminal penalties might we be breaking at this very moment without even realizing it?

2) Just who the hell do these people think they are?

Regardless of whether or not the penalties are ever exacted is irrelevant.

It’s disgusting to even be threatened with such atrocity, simply because some bureaucratic functionary needs to justify his/her position.

It’s a clear sign that in today’s system, the government doesn’t exist to serve the people. They think the people exist to support the government.

Abraham Lincoln once told a war-torn nation that a government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from this earth.

Tragically, Lincoln was totally wrong. Because this is what freedom has become in America.

Have you reached your breaking point yet?


I’ll publish more about form BE-10 soon. The quick and dirty is this: you need to file if you are a US individual or company that owned at least 10% of a foreign business at any time during your 2014 fiscal year (January 1 – December 31 for most folks.)

If you’re an individual, the reporting requirements are very simple-- just a few boxes to check. It might take you five minutes... which makes being threatened with criminal penalties even more ridiculous.

The deadline to submit for first-time filers is June 30, 2015, and you can submit via mail, fax, or online. Read more about it here:

Premium members: I’ll have some detailed information for you very soon that will make this incredibly easy. Stay tuned for more.

Until tomorrow,
Simon Black