fine is listed at the bottom. ranges from $100 to $5000.
I’m calling about the American
Resources for Congress
What is the American Community Survey (ACS)?
The ACS is an important sample survey conducted in the United States.
It is designed to provide more current demographic, social, economic,
and housing estimates throughout the decade. Each address in the
United States has a small chance of being selected in a month, and no
address should be selected more than once every 5 years.
Is it mandatory?
Yes. Just as people are required to respond to jury duty, get a driver’s license
in order to drive, pay their taxes and report their income, they also have the
obligation to respond to the ACS. The ACS is conducted under the authority
of Title 13, U.S. Code (U.S.C.), Sections 141 and 193, and response is required
by law. The purpose of these provisions is to protect the accuracy of the
statistics used to measure the socioeconomic well-being of the American
public, determine how to allocate tax dollars, and make other decisions that
Is it confidential?
Yes. Title 13 of the U.S. Code requires the U.S. Census Bureau to keep all
information about all respondents strictly confidential and protected from
unauthorized use. Any Census Bureau employee who violates these provisions
is subject to a fine of up to $250,000 or a prison sentence up to 5 years, or both.
How do respondents complete the ACS?
The Census Bureau samples addresses not individuals, and sends a series of
mailings to the resident of each address.
• Most households receive a letter including an explanation of the ACS and
instructions to access and complete the survey online.
• A paper questionnaire is mailed if the online survey is not completed within
a reasonable amount of time.
• If no survey is completed online or returned by mail, an attempt is made
to contact the address by phone. Telephone interviewers will give a
1-800 phone number that can be called to confirm the inquiry.
• Some households may also be contacted by personal visit. Interviewers
will carry an identification badge and explain the reason for each visit.
Once contacted, respondents may call our Telephone Questionnaire
Assistance Line at 1-800-354-7271 to find out more or to complete the
survey over the phone.
If you or your staff have
additional concerns, please
contact our Office of
at firstname.lastname@example.org or by
phone at 301-763-6100.
Constituents can find
additional FAQs and submit
their own questions at
They may also ask questions,
receive assistance in other
languages, and complete the
survey over the phone at
Estimates for ACS and other
Census Bureau surveys
are located on American
ACSWhy is participation in the ACS important?
The questions on the ACS supply the statistics needed to assess a
variety of programs. When people complete the ACS, they are helping
to ensure that the best, most accurate, and complete statistics are
available to inform decisions about the future of their communities.
Is my information safe?
Yes. The Census Bureau is committed to safeguarding privacy and
protecting the confidentiality of all individuals who share their information.
Only authorized persons with a work-related need to know may view a
respondent’s personal information. Additionally, advanced statistical
methodologies protect confidential information. The final published
aggregate statistics do not reveal names, addresses, or any other
information that would identify an individual respondent or business—
the identifiers are deleted from these files.
The survey took longer than 40 minutes to complete.
On average, the ACS will take about 40 minutes to complete, including the
time for reviewing the instructions and answers. Many households will spend
more time on this form, ensuring that each question is given thorough
consideration and each answer is as accurate as possible.
Can the elderly, sick, or disabled be removed from this
While responding to the ACS may be more challenging for people who are
older or disabled, everyone's information is very important. For example,
statistics about the size, distribution, and needs of the disabled and older
population are used by a number of federal agencies to ensure that everyone
has access to adequate housing, transportation, and services. When someone
is unable to complete the form, they can designate a trusted individual as their
proxy to answer the questions on the questionnaire or over the phone.
Why does the Census Bureau need to know the time
I leave for work?
Basic knowledge about commuting patterns and the characteristics of
commuter travel come from responses to these questions. The commuting
statistics are essential for planning highway improvements and developing
public transportation services, as well as for designing programs to ease
traffic problems during peak periods, conserve energy, reduce pollution,
and estimate and project the demand for alternative fueled vehicles.
Why does the Census Bureau need to know my income,
the amount of my mortgage payment, or how much
I pay for electricity?
Selected monthly owner costs, such as mortgage payments and utilities,
are a measure of the cost of homeownership. When combined with income,
selected monthly owner costs offer an excellent measure of affordability
and excessive shelter costs. These statistics are used in many housing
assistance programs, and research into housing affordability.
Can respondents be fined for not completing the ACS?
The ACS is conducted under the authority of Title 13, U.S. Code
(U.S.C.), Sections 141 and 193, and response is required by law.
According to Section 221, persons who do not respond shall be fined
not more than $100. Title 18 U.S.C. Section 3571 and Section 3559,
. in effect amend Title 13 U.S.C. Section 221 by changing the fine for
anyone over 18 years old who refuses or willfully neglects to complete
the questionnaire or answer questions posed by census takers from
a fine of not more than $100 to not more than $5,000.