U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Business Survey: What small business needs to know

Date: August 29, 2022

If you are a small business owner, you may have received the United States Census Bureau an Annual Business Survey (ABS) in the mail. If you have not received this survey, one may be coming your way in the near future. It is important to understand the purpose and caveats of this survey in the event your business receives one. <.p>

This survey began in 2017 and is issued to randomly selected nonfarm businesses who filed 941, 944, or 1120 tax forms. Between the years of 2018 and 2022, the ABS was issued to over 1 million business employers.

Survey is Mandatory and Authorized by Congress

It is important to note that this survey is mandatory, and penalties up to $5,000 will be incurred for a failure to report, and up to $10,000 for intentionally providing false information.

If your business has closed, been sold, or reorganized, you are still required to complete the survey. To report that the business has closed, you should respond to the first question on the ABS online report form which asks, “Has this business ceased operations?” If another entity acquired or merged with this business during or after the survey reference year, you should report for the part of the year that this business was in operation prior to its acquisition or merger.

Usage of Survey Data – Confidentiality Mandated by Law

The results of the ABS are utilized by a wide range of groups and agencies from government program officials, industry organization leaders, economic and social analysts, business entrepreneurs, researchers in academia, and even NFIB’s Research Center. This data is used to assess business assistance needs, allocate available program resources, assess business growth and progress, and more.

The Census Bureau additionally states,

The U.S. Census Bureau is required by Section 9 of Title 13 to keep your information confidential and use your responses only to produce statistics. The Census Bureau is not permitted to publicly release your responses in a way that could identify your business, organization, or institution.

Still have questions?

For more information on the ABS please visit the Census Bureau page on the Annual Business Survey (ABS) Program.

You may also contact the Census Bureau via phone on their toll-free number at 1-888-824-9954 Monday -Friday 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

For additional questions, please feel free to reach out to the NFIB Small Business Legal Center at info@nfib.org.

August 29, 2022

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