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The American Community Survey (U.S. Department of Commerce)

Resolved Question:

The American Community Survey (U.S. Department of Commerce) sent me the 2009 census. The questions seem very intrusive and irrelevant to me. Do I have to fill out all of these questions and if not what are the minimums required by law?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  LawHelpNow replied 8 years ago.

Hello and thanks so much for choosing this forum to pose your important legal question. I will do my best to give you some honest and accurate guidance as I answer your question.


  1. I am a licensed attorney, and I will be glad to try and answer your question. I hope that the following information will be helpful to you, but please just write back if you have any follow-up questions or need clarification on anything after reviewing the following information.
  2. Yes, as surprising as it may seem, response to this survey is required by law. The Census Bureau may use the information it collects only for statistical purposes and is required to keep all information about you, and all other respondents, strictly confidential. Any Census Bureau employee who violates these provisions is subject to a fine up to $250,000, a prison sentence up to five years, or both. Anyone 18 and older who refuses or "willfully neglects" to answer the questions connected with the census shall be fined up to $100. Anyone who willfully gives false information to any question can be fined up to $500. At one time, individuals could be imprisoned up to 60 days for refusing to comply with the census and up to a year for willfully providing false information, but the penalties were amended in 1976. Incidentally, the law does not compel anyone to give information about religious beliefs or membership in a religious group. The statutory governing the authority for collecting information and requiring responses comes from Title 13 of the U.S. Code.



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