For months, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro has been talking about tackling the issue of mutual fund 12b-1 fees, and 2010 could be the year she does it.

Ask a broker why 12b-1 fees exist and you’ll get a variety of answers. The fees cover marketing and distribution costs, processing and record-keeping costs in a 401(k) plan, payment for brokers, and sale of fund shares. In a speech in Washington, D.C., earlier this month Schapiro said there should be greater transparency around the fees, which could be as high as 1%.

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