US Census Bureau

Legal Information

This area is meant to provide a summary of the legal information concerning the Economic Census. It addresses the legal responsibility of responding to the census forms, and the protections guaranteed to your company.

Blue ball Confidentiality of Reported Data

Title 13 U.S. Code provides complete protection for all reported information. Only sworn U.S. Census Bureau employees will see individual company information; and only for the development of statistical totals and summaries. Our publications provide no information about individual company operations.

In addition, the forms you send to us and copies you retain are immune from legal action. Federal law specifically exempts the reports from the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.
View Section 9 of Title 13

Blue ball Legal Authority to Conduct the Economic Census and Mandatory Reporting

Federal courts have consistently upheld the authority of Congress to pass laws that require censuses in areas other than population. Since in some instances the failure of a few companies to report in a census can greatly impact the value of the statistics, Title 13 of the U.S. Code makes reporting in these censuses mandatory.

Section 131 of Title 13 directs that the economic census be taken at 5-year intervals covering years ending in 2 and 7. Section 224 of this law requires your response to the census and articulates the penalties for failing to do so.
View Sections 131 and 224 of Title 13

Blue ball Penalties for Not Reporting Data

According to Section 224 of Title 13 United States Code:

  1. Failing to Report: Up to, but not more than $500 per establishment. Payment of this fine does not release your company from the responsibility of filing.

  2. Willfully Giving Wrong Answers: Up to, but not more than $10,000.

Blue ball Use of Data Your company Reported to Other Government Agencies

We make extensive use of administrative information from other government agencies in order to help reduce your reporting burden. These provide basic data - total receipts, total payroll, and total employment - needed to produce statistics for geographic areas and types of businesses.

However, we must obtain data from all large companies and a small, scientifically designed sample of smaller ones, in order to provide data on a wide range of subjects covered by the censuses.

Confidentiality of data used from other federal agencies is strictly enforced. Also, please note that these same agencies cannot obtain data for an individual establishment or company from us.

Blue ball Exemptions from Reporting Data

Congress has enacted legislation (Title 13) which requires the completion of the forms we sent your company. Because of the mandatory reporting requirement in this law, no company can be excused from reporting.

Blue ball Full Text of Laws

The following links are provided for additional information only.

Title 13 U.S.C. Legal Information Institute (LII), Cornell Law School.
Title 15 U.S.C. (LII)
Title 44 U.S.C. Sec. 3501-3520 (The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980) (LII)

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U.S. Census Bureau: Helping You Make Informed Decisions
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Last Revised: 06/15/01