5 CFR 1320.6 - Public protection.
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person shall be subject to any penalty for failing to comply with a collection of information that is subject to the requirements of this part if:
(1) The collection of information does not display, in accordance with§ 1320.3(f) and § 1320.5(b)(1), a currently valid OMB control number assigned by the Director in accordance with the Act; or
(2) The agency fails to inform the potential person who is to respond to the collection of information, in accordance with§ 1320.5(b)(2), that such person is not required to respond to the collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.
(b) The protection provided by paragraph (a) of this section may be raised in the form of a complete defense, bar, or otherwise to the imposition of such penalty at any time during the agency administrative process in which such penalty may be imposed or in any judicial action applicable thereto.
(c) Whenever an agency has imposed a collection of information as a means for proving or satisfying a condition for the receipt of a benefit or the avoidance of a penalty, and the collection of information does not display a currently valid OMB control number or inform the potential persons who are to respond to the collection of information, as prescribed in§ 1320.5(b), the agency shall not treat a person's failure to comply, in and of itself, as grounds for withholding the benefit or imposing the penalty. The agency shall instead permit respondents to prove or satisfy the legal conditions in any other reasonable manner.
(1) If OMB disapproves the whole of such a collection of information (and the disapproval is not overridden under§ 1320.15), the agency shall grant the benefit to (or not impose the penalty on) otherwise qualified persons without requesting further proof concerning the condition.
(2) If OMB instructs an agency to make a substantive or material change to such a collection of information (and the instruction is not overridden under§ 1320.15), the agency shall permit respondents to prove or satisfy the condition by complying with the collection of information as so changed.
(d) Whenever a member of the public is protected from imposition of a penalty under this section for failure to comply with a collection of information, such penalty may not be imposed by an agency directly, by an agency through judicial process, or by anyother person through administrative or judicial process.
(e) The protection provided by paragraph (a) of this section does not preclude the imposition of a penalty on a person for failing to comply with a collection of information that is imposed on the person by statute—e.g., 26 U.S.C.§ 6011(a) (statutory requirement for person to file a tax return), 42 U.S.C. § 6938(c) (statutory requirement for person to provide notification before exporting hazardous waste).
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