CRF Blog

5 Things You Need to Know About … The U.S. Postal Service

by Bill Hayes

With the postal service on the verge of bankruptcy, PBS’ Need to Know tells you 5 Things You Need to Know About… The U.S. Postal Service.

2. The postal service doesn’t rely on taxpayer funds.

Until 1971, mail delivery was handled by the Post Office Department, a Cabinet department in the federal government. Postal worker strikes prompted President Nixon to pass the Postal Reorganization Act in 1971, transforming it into the semi-independent agency we now know as the United States Postal Service. The USPS in its current form runs like a business, relies on postage for revenue and, for the most part, has not used taxpayer money since 1982, when postage stamps became “products” instead of forms of taxation. Taxpayer money is only used in some cases to pay for mailing voter materials to disabled and overseas Americans.

USPS spokespersons have been adamant in emphasizing that they are not requesting taxpayer funds from the federal government to make this year’s payment. Rather, they say, the USPS is asking Congress to authorize access to an estimated $7 billion that they overpaid into the future retiree pension fund in previous years. [more]