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Ignoring Census survey could cost your community, or you - KOAM TV 7

Ignoring Census survey could cost your community, or you

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A survey from the U.S. Census Bureau has some Four State residents at odds over whether or not to fill it out.  According to the survey that is mailed federal law requires it be answered.

The Census Bureau says $400 billion is at stake over which community will receive parts of this federal funding.  Based on this the government agency could issue a fine if the survey is left unnoticed.

The warning is no joke.

"Apparently, not filling it in could be a federal misdemeanor offense," says attorney Bill Fleishaker.

Giving the government a cold shoulder by not filling out this survey could cost you a hefty fine.

The U.S. Census Bureau says its American Community Survey is the organization's biggest project outside the regular Census done every 10 years.

The American Community Survey has been mailed out to 2.5 million residents.

Government officials say the survey is more sociological than the regular census and includes questions regarding the household's economic situation.  One question asks if you have trouble concentrating, remembering, or making decisions.  Another asks if you have difficulty dressing or bathing.

The Census Bureau admits there can be an issue of privacy for some.

"I suppose if you're paranoid, you may believe the FBI and Secret Service and organizations such of that can sneak into the Census Bureau and get this information, but the law says otherwise," says Fleishaker.

The Census Bureau says any of its workers caught releasing names to the public could face of a fine of up to $250,000 or time in prison.

The anonymous information that is released ends up being beneficial in more ways than one.

"For instance, what comes out of the Census Bureau is helpful in picking juries, venues for cases," says Fleishaker.

Federal law allows the Census Bureau to issue a fine of up to $5,000 to a person who doesn't answer the survey.  But the bureau says fines are rarely issued, since Census workers also visit people in person if no survey is received.

Census workers tell me they urge residents to let the government know in writing or by phone if they are uncomfortable answering any questions.

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