How Much Is Income Underreported In Census Figures?

Further to yesterday's post, I thought it would be useful to reprise this post from last November.  The post is titled "Literally Everybody Gets Taken In By The Poverty Scam."  It discusses an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Robert Doar of AEI, and a study that Doar cited by Bruce Meyer of the University of Chicago and Nikolas Mittag of Charles University.  

The Meyer/Mittag study is really quite breathtaking in its findings of the extent to which Census figures, derived from their population surveys, underreport income and receipt of government benefits.  How much in the way of government benefit payments do you think the Census Bureau misses when they send out survey forms and just take whatever answer people give without any kind of verification or double check?  Five percent?  Ten percent?  Get real:

The Meyer/Mittag study implies that the CPS survey is capturing at best half of government benefit payments. 

And what chance is there that the reporting is any better of off-the-books income, illegal income, and income from sporadic and gig work (day laborer, handyman, landscaping, musician, etc., etc., etc.)?  This income very largely goes to the lower two quintiles of the income distribution, and substantially drives the official (fake) statistics on "income inequality."  Of course people don't tell the Census Bureau about income they don't report to the tax man!  Would you?  How can you be sure that Census is not sending your response over to the IRS to catch you?  

This known underreporting gives Census an enormous reservoir of known unreported income to play with when they have some political reason to tweak their numbers.  The underreported income is likely at least 10% of all income, maybe even 15 - 20%.  (This 2011 study estimates 18-19% of income is not reported to the IRS.  Why would Census be any different?)

Funny, but Census gets very worked up when it thinks its decennial population survey might be missing around 3 or 4 percent of the people.  But when its income surveys miss around 15% of income (approximately $3 trillion), nobody raises a peep.  Hey, it's politically convenient -- for the "main project" of government, which is further growing the government.