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Am I legally required to fill out the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey?

Worst case scenario for avoiding Uncle Sam’s questions could be a $5,000 fine, although according to the U.S. Census Bureau, no American (yet) has been fined — and only 67 percent of Americans participated in the 2000 census.

But questions such as “Does anyone at home, because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, have serious difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions?” or “How many rooms are in your home?” can seem more invasive than inviting.

More than 250,000 households are sent this survey each month, which also list strict regulations on how you fill out the form, like no slashes through your number 7s. It is a federal crime not to respond, and the U.S. Census Bureau has strict rules safeguarding their data and wants to reassure doubters that the census is used to see where you distribute your dollars not to peek through your curtains. Any federal government workers revealing census stats can be fined or imprisoned.

Angry Americans have taken to some blogging sites to inform others that census workers have visited their homes when they choose to not complete the survey.

So if the federal government’s questions seem more like an interrogation than a survey, you have to decide what is worse, filling the questions out on paper or giving them to the government in person if they choose to come to you.

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11 Responses to “ Am I legally required to fill out the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey?”

  1. On July 6, 2009 at 8:35 pm G.Ron wrote:

    Is this truly a question regarding the status of people whom may reside in a home? If so, I would believe that if the goverment were truly interested, they would have to make a door to door inspection as many people are living in homes that are unable to function as adults and are home alone,all day, yet unable to stay alone during the night.
    It would cost the goverment more with this knowledge of who needs “help” and cause more troubles that I do not think the county could handle. Perhaps this would get APS to be involved.

  2. On September 12, 2009 at 11:39 pm bb mckay wrote:

    The purpose of the census is to collect information on HOW MANY people live in an area, for the purpose of determining how many represenatives the district is entitled to. At least that’s my take on what the U.S. Constitution says.
    Has this changed in some way? If not, I feel compelled to declare how many people live in my home, nothing more and nothing less. If there has been no Constitutional Amendment, I believe it would be wrong of me to address further questions, as it could lead to gerrymandering, which is illegal as well as unethical. What say you, StarNew Journalists?

  3. On September 18, 2009 at 10:02 pm Michael wrote:

    Hey the only thing on that form that you are legally required to fill out is the number of people in your home.

    Thats it. once you fill that out, you are done. give it on back to them. have a nice day.

  4. On September 22, 2009 at 1:28 pm guest 28405 wrote:

    I plan on not answering any questions but who lives in my home. The gov’mt is just trying to be nosy. They don’t need to know anything else and I did not see where there was an amendment in the Constitution. Until that happens sorry you won’t get any more info from me. And if it comes down to a fine you can bet I will take it to court.

  5. On September 24, 2009 at 10:37 pm An American wrote:

    According to the Constitution (as if anybody listens to it anymore) we are only required to declare the number of residents in the home.

  6. On March 26, 2010 at 3:20 pm bob wrote:

    According to Article I Section II of the US Constitution states: “The actual Enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct.”

    From this it is clear the the Census can include any questions that congress requires by law: “in such manner as they shall by law direct”.

  7. On March 29, 2010 at 12:08 pm Shery wrote:

    Gheez, people, just fill out the cenus form! The government just wants to know how many people live in the USA.

  8. On April 7, 2011 at 3:32 pm American Citizen wrote:

    I don’t think people really mind filling out the question’s that ask, How many people are in your household.
    Where I think the Government is crossing the line is sending me a second census asking things like;
    Do I have a toilet, running water, hot water and how the water is heated i.e. electric or gas. what time I leave for work and where, how long is my drive. What color am I, what religion, what’s my phone number, and cell number. what kind of car I drive and how much I bought it for. Do I have internet, a stove and refrigerator, how many bathrooms if any.
    And many questions about my very private information that I’m not going to give to anyone.

    This is ridiculous and that’s why our forefathers made sure they included in the constitution that the census is only to be used for counting people and that it.

    This incompetent Congress doesn’t have the authority to gather such information.
    Next, we will have toilet tax, hot water tax, and luxury tax because you may have something your neighbor may not have.

  9. On May 26, 2011 at 5:17 pm CJ wrote:

    I just received my American Community Survey. In my opinion (and the info I received from the Census Bureau) this information is to decide where to spend our tax dollars. More government programs — more government intervention in our lives. It can also be used for redistribution of wealth, which I believe is the ultimate goal. After reading the many comments on the internet, I will answer the questions I choose to answer. Nothing more!! I believe this whole survey is unconstitutional, which is the mode of operation in Washington any more.

  10. On March 8, 2012 at 9:42 am anne russell wrote:

    Ignore this questionnaire and feign Alzheimer’s if a census worker comes to see you. Then you can claim you answered whether anyone at your home has a serious mental difficulty, because you were unable to answer the questions.



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