Do I have to respond to the census?

Simple answer: 


More complex answer: Respond when contacted the first time – if only to save taxpayers’ funds.

If you are living in the United States, you are legally required to respond to the U.S. Census and could be subject to a fine or limited prison term for non-compliance or false answers. However, the U.S. Census Bureau is not a prosecuting agency; and failure to provide information is unlikely to result in a fine. Instead, Census Bureau staff work to achieve cooperation and high response rates by helping the public understand that responding to the Census is a matter of civic responsibility and that data from the census has benefits that span across government, industry, and profession.

Moreover, your quick response to the Census will ensure cost-efficiency in the use of taxpayer funds for the conduct of the Census. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimated that, in 2010, it cost the Census Bureau approximately $0.42 per housing unit if the household returned the survey that they received in the mail. On the other hand, if the initial survey was not answered, the Census Bureau had to spend another $98 per housing unit (or $57 per person) to collect the data.

So help the Census Bureau keep its costs down—and save the taxpayers’ dollars—by responding to the first mail contact.

Show All Answers

1. Why does the U.S. Census Bureau ask the question it asks?
2. Are my answers safe and secure?
3. How do I distinguish between an authentic U.S. Census Bureau contact & fraudulent activity & scams?
4. What does "residence" mean & how do I count the "residents" in my house?
5. Do I have to respond to the census?
6. How will the U.S. Census Bureau contact me & how am I to respond?
7. I already filled out a survey from the Census Bureau last year! Why have I been contacted again?
8. What happens in communities where residents may have limited English-speaking abilities?
9. What if I still have questions or concerns?
10. How will people experiencing homelessness be counted?
11. What does Language Assistance look like in the 2020 Census?