Yes. Your response is required by law. Title 13 of the U.S. Code requires businesses and other organizations that receive the questionnaire(s) to answer the questions and return the report(s) to the Census Bureau. The law also provides that copies retained in your files are confidential and immune from legal process. In addition, reported data are exempt from requests made under the Freedom of Information Act.
The annual business surveys provide data that help to measure America's current economic performance. The government uses the data to determine economic policy; private industry relies on these data for planning and research.
Annual Retail Trade Survey (ARTS)--The Census Bureau selects a sample of about 22,000 retail firms to report sales, e-commerce sales, inventories, purchases, and in some circumstances accounts receivable data. This survey also covers accommodations and food services.
Annual Wholesale Trade Survey (AWTS)--The Census Bureau selects a sample of about 7,000 merchant Wholesale Distributor firms 1,600 Manufacturers' Sales Branches and Offices (MSBO) firms and 500 Agents, Brokers and Electronic Markets to report sales, e-commerce sales, inventories, inventory valuation methods, and purchases for merchant wholesalers, operating expenses for MSBO and commissions for Agents, Brokers and Electronic Markets (AGBR)
Service Annual Survey (SAS)--The Census Bureau selects a sample of about 50,000 service firms to report revenue, e-commerce sales, exports and, for some industries, operating expenses.
The Census Bureau uses IRS administrative data whenever possible. However, the IRS data does not provide the level of detail needed in most Census Bureau surveys. Also, some items are just not available from IRS data, e.g., merchandise/receipts lines, e-commerce, etc.
Likewise, many companies that are unable to provide a final inventory number on a monthly basis can do so on an annual basis, and many firms reporting on a LIFO basis only calculate their LIFO reserve data annually. This information would not be available to us without the annual surveys.
Manufactures' Sales Branches and Offices (MSBO) are the selling locations of United States manufacturing and mining companies. If the selling location has inventory it is a branch and if it does not have inventory it is an office. They are usually located apart from the manufacturing plant or mine, but can also be a separate office collocated at a plant or mine.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has requested that data from MSBOs be collected on an annual basis and Congress provided the funding for adding them to the ATS program beginning with data year 2003. Collecting this information annually will provide more current measures for MSBOs and will improve the Nation's Gross Domestic Product estimates for this part of the economy.