Don’t ignore a letter from the U.S. Department of Commerce requesting that you complete an Annual Business Survey (ABS). These annual surveys are mandatory, and failure to complete it can subject you to up to a $5,000 fine, or $10,000 for intentionally providing false information. You must complete the ABS report even if your business has since been recently sold, reorganized or ceased operations.
The U.S. Census Bureau within the Department of Commerce and the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics within the National Science Foundation jointly conduct the ABS. The Census Bureau sends surveys to scientifically selected businesses instead of every single business in the country. When prompted, all nonfarm employer businesses filing Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax forms as individual proprietorships, partnerships or any other type of corporation, with receipts of $1,000 or more must complete the survey.
The ABS collects various data regarding “business owners,” such as their sex, ethnicity, race and veteran status. “Business ownership” is defined as having more than 50% of the stock or equity in the business. The survey also measures research, developments and new business topics, such as innovation and technology, as well as other business characteristics.
The ABS characteristics are defined as:
- Sex: Male, female or equally male/female;
- Ethnicity: Hispanic, equally Hispanic/non-Hispanic or non-Hispanic;
- Race: White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, minority, equally minority/nonminority or nonminority;
- Veteran status: Veteran, equally veteran/nonveteran or nonveteran; and
- Publicly held and other firms not classifiable by sex, ethnicity, race and veteran status.
Each year, new questions are submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for approval. In addition to the above characteristics, for the 2022 survey year, content includes “Research and Development (R&D); Business Processes and Technology; Design and Intellectual Property; Domestic and Foreign Transactions; and the Coronavirus Pandemic Impact.”
Your responses will be kept strictly confidential. The Census Bureau is not permitted to publicly release your responses in a way that could identify your business, organization or institution.
The survey is completed online via an electronic reporting tool. The Census Bureau estimates that the survey takes approximately 52 minutes to complete, but you may request an extension if you need additional time. The due date for when you must complete the survey is included on your initial letter from the Department of Commerce.
If you received a letter requesting that you complete the ABS, sign-in or register at Census Bureau’s Respondent Portal. For assistance completing this survey, sign-in to your Census Bureau account and send a secure message or call the customer help line at 1-888-824-9954, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. E.T.
For more information, visit ABS website.