We hope you are staying safe and healthy as we tread through these interesting waters the Coronavirus has sent our way. In the midst of everything, you likely received a US Census in the mail. We have found some of our clients have come across questions while completing the census. We wanted to take this opportunity to provide some clarity on the subject.
Below is some information about the census that is meant to be informational and may answer any lingering questions that you may have about the census.*
Do I have to complete the census?
Yes, it is mandatory by law that all US citizens complete a census every 10 years. The Census Bureau will follow up in person to collect a response if you do not respond, or if you do not complete all of the questions. If you do not answer all, or part of the census, you can be fined up to $100. If you give false answers, you are subject to a fine of up to $500.
Is the US census confidential?
Yes, your information is secure and protected. Your personal information and identity are never reported. All identifying information including name, age, and address is never published for public or private use.
The Census Bureau is required by law to protect your answers. They cannot disclose any identifiable information about you, your home, or your business. Your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court of law. If someone does release your identifiable information, they can be punished by prison time or a fine of up to $250,000.
Avoid Potential Scams during the 2020 Census
Census workers will always carry valid identification. You can call 800-923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative if you have questions about a person’s legitimacy. The 2020 US Census Bureau will never ask for social security numbers, bank accounts or credit card numbers, or any kind of payment.
What is the point of the census?
The information collected in the census is used by the federal government to determine budget allocations for government-funded programming, including education, infrastructure, employment, economic opportunities, and other relevant local community programs. Government agencies use this data to reflect accurate and up to date statistics on a range of demographic identifiers.
Census results are used to determine:
- Funding to communities for public services
- Seats each state gets in Congress
- Boundaries for congressional, state legislative, and school districts
Why does the census ask my age?
Age is used to determine how much funding is designated to different age-specific community programs, such as public school systems. Your age is asked in two formats, birthdate and age, to ensure consistency and to avoid duplicate data (ex: a 10 month old child is called a 1 year old, when, in fact, they are not yet one).
How come the Census collects Race Data?
This question originated in the 1980 census, and allows local, state, and federal agencies to use ancestry data to plan and evaluate government programs and policies to ensure they fairly and equally serve the needs of all groups.
There are fifteen race options on the 2020 census. Race information is gathered in an effort to properly allocate race-based program funds, and to prevent potential race-based discrimination. It helps to ensure equal opportunity and understand change.
In addition to race, there is a write-in space to describe ancestry or ethnic origin. Here are some notes from the 2020 Census FAQ providing guidance as to how to answer this question:
- Your answer to this question should be based on how you identify.
- Each person can decide how to answer.
- Please note that you can mark more than one race for each person. If you don’t know the answer, please move on to the next question.
- When answering the online questionnaire, you are asked to select one or more boxes and then enter detailed origins in the fields below each checkbox. If you don’t know this person’s origin, you can leave this field blank. If you check a box, but leave the origin fields blank, a message will appear at the top of the screen and the blank field will be highlighted in red. If you do not know this person’s origin, click next again to continue completing your response.
Are there any questions you don’t have to answer or are all required?
All questions on the 2020 census are, in fact, required by law. If you do not answer, you will receive a follow up regarding the unsupplied data.
Should I be worried about completing the census?
No, the purpose of the census is to help citizens. We encourage you to complete the census as instructed by the official documents you receive in the mail.
You can access more information and frequently asked questions about the US Census at census.gov. We are also here to help answer any questions you may have regarding the census, current events, and other events that may impact your finances. Our remote offices remain open to assist you however we can.
*The opinions expressed herein are those of Morris Financial Concepts, Inc. (“MFC”) and are subject to change without notice. Links to third-party websites have been derived from sources considered to be reliable, but the accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. This material is for informational purposes only and should not be considered investment advice. MFC is an independent investment adviser registered under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. More information about MFC including our investment strategies, fees and objectives can be found in our ADV Part 2, which is available upon request. MFC-20-08.