Answer the Census; They're counting on you!

By Marjorie Isaacson 

By now you should have received a U.S. Census form in the mail. If you thought it was a piece of junk mail, think again. The consequences of not acting are expensive, and you'll pay these costs in taxes.

There is a big ad campaign going on designed to encourage the public to fill out and return the forms promptly. The cost for this outreach was $130 million, which sounded like a lot to me. But this sum pales in comparison to the costs of following up on the forms that aren't returned, estimated at $56 a household, as much as $1.5 billion.

According to the Census, those least likely to return forms are undocumented immigrants, Hispanics, young adults, city dwellers and residents displaced by foreclosures. For cities, getting an accurate count is crucially important because the statistics help determine funding for government services.

Census statistics are also published and free for anyone who wants to use them. It's a wealth of information for all kinds of businesses — a bargain, really.

One cost of the Census is that canvassers visit households that do not mail back a form. So do your part and avoid an inconvenient and embarrassing visit from a government worker.

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