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What is the difference between the American Community Survey and the 2020 Census?

The American Community Survey (ACS) is conducted every year to provide up-to-date information about the social and economic needs of your community. The ACS shows how people live--our education, housing, jobs and more. For example, results may be used to decide where new schools, hospitals, and emergency services are needed.

The census is conducted once every 10 years to provide an official count of the entire U.S. population to Congress.

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Do I have to answer both the American Community Survey and the 2020 Census?

Yes, if your household was selected for the American Community Survey, you must complete it in addition to the 2020 Census. Your response to both is important and required by law (Title 13, U.S. Code). Your responses will also help provide local and national leaders with the information they need for planning and for programs.

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Why can't you use my census answers for the American Community Survey?

The American Community Survey includes questions that will not be asked on the 2020 Census, and the two serve different purposes.

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Your answers are confidential.

Every Census Bureau employee takes a lifetime oath to protect your personal identification. Disclosing ANY information that could identify you or your family means 5 years in prison, or $250,000 in fines, or both.

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