Biological surveys are in increasing demand while taxonomic resources continue to decline. How much formal taxonomy is required to get the job done? The answer depends on the kind of job but it is possible that taxonomic minimalism, especially (1) the use of higher taxonomic ranks, (2) the use of morphospecies rather than species (as identified by Latin binomials), and (3) the involvement of taxonomic specialists only for training and verification, may offer advantages for biodiversity assessment, environmental monitoring and ecological research. As such, formal taxonomy remains central to the process of biological inventory and survey but resources may be allocated more efficiently. For example, if formal Identification is not required, resources may be concentrated on replication and increasing sample sizes. Taxonomic minimalism may also facilitate the inclusion in these activities of important but neglected groups, especially among the invertebrates, and perhaps even microorganisms.