While it is the last thing they want to do, the U.S. Census Bureau can impose fines for failing to answer the 2010 Census questions or for intentionally providing false information.
According to Title 13, Section 221 (Census, Refusal or neglect to answer questions; false answers) of the United States Code, persons who fail or refuse to respond to the mail-back census form, or refuse to respond to a follow-up census taker can be fined up to $100. Persons who knowingly provide false information to the census can be fined up to $500.
So far the Census Bureau has offered no indication that it actually intends to charge violators or impose these fines, but if you fail to complete and return your 2010 Census questionnaire, a census-taker will be paying you a visit.
Personal Follow-up Visits
From April through July 2010, some 1.4 million census takers will make door-to-door visits to all households that failed to respond to the mail-back Census 2010 questionnaires. The Census worker will assist a member of the household -- who must be at least 15-years old -- in completing the Census 2010 survey form. Census workers can be identified by a badge and Census 2010 bag.
Privacy of Census Responses
Under federal law, all employees and officials of the Census Bureau are prohibited from sharing a person's personal information with anyone else, including welfare agencies, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Internal Revenue Service, courts, police and the military. Violation of this law carries penalties of $5,000 in fines and up to five years in prison.