What Information Gets Disclosed
What if I have questions about how to complete a particular line on the form?
First, review the instructions
for the form you are completing. If you are in the online Financial Disclosure System
, instructions are available under “Form Instructions” in the left-hand column of any page. Instructions are also available on the Board of Ethics website
. If you have questions after reviewing the instructions, you can contact Board staff at (215) 686-9450. Please note that depending on the form or forms that you are required to file and the specific question, Board staff may refer you to another Office.
If I have no information to report on a section of the form, should I just leave the space blank?
No. Whether you are using the online Financial Disclosure System
or preparing your report on paper, be sure to check the box marked “none” if you have nothing to report on a particular line.
If information that I have already disclosed in one category on a form is responsive to a second category on the same form, do I also need to disclose the same information in the second category?
Yes. The same information may be required in more than one category of a form and must be disclosed in all applicable categories.
Do I need to disclose that I own a vacation home as a real estate interest?
Mere ownership of a vacation home is not reported on the City or State Forms. Generally, the City and State Forms require reporting only if a real estate interest was involved in a transaction with the City or State, respectively. Please see the instructions for each particular form for details. Note that rental income and gains received from a property in an amount over the applicable reporting thresholds is required to be reported under sources of income.
When reporting creditor information, do I need to report the amount I owe?
No. On the City and State Forms, you must report the creditor’s name and address and interest rate, but not the amount of the debt. Information is required to be reported for debts in excess of $5,000 on the City Form and for debts in excess of $6,500 on the State Form.
Please note that the City Form does not require you to disclose the mortgage on your “principal residence” or a loan from your "immediate family members."
Do I need to include the mortgage on my home as part of creditor information?
On the City Form, you do not have to report the mortgage on your “principal residence.” On the State Form, you do not have to report the mortgage on your home or secondary home.
Do I need to report my student loan debt as part of creditor information?
Yes, if your student debt is over the applicable thresholds. The City Form requires you to disclose the name and address of each creditor that you owed in excess of $5,000 at any time during the previous calendar year and the interest rate of the loan. Such reporting would include any governmental or private entity with which you have a student loan in excess of $5,000.
Similarly, the State Form requires you to disclose the name and address of each creditor that you owed in excess of $6,500 at any time during the previous calendar year and the interest rate of the loan. On its website, the State Ethics Commission explains that "school loans . . . must be listed on the form if the balance owed was in excess of $6,500.00 at any time during the [previous] calendar year."
Do I need to report the City of Philadelphia as a source of income?
Yes, if your compensation from the City exceeds applicable thresholds. For the City Form, if a filer's City pay equals or exceeds $500 in the prior calendar year, the filer must report the City of Philadelphia as a source of income. For the State Form, the threshold amount for reporting a source of income is $1,300.
What needs to be disclosed as sources of income?
For purposes of the City Form, income is any money or thing of value received, or to be received as a claim on future services, whether in the form of a fee, salary, expense, allowance, forbearance, forgiveness, interest, dividend, royalty, rent, capital gain or any other form of recompense or any combination thereof. Generally, anything that is reportable as "gross income" on your federal income tax return should be disclosed as income on the City Form if it totals in the aggregate $500 or more.
The State Ethics Commission on its website answers the question of what direct or indirect sources of income must be disclosed on the State Form as follows:
"Income" includes any money or thing of value received or to be received as a claim on future services or in recognition of services rendered in the past, whether in the form of a payment, fee, salary, expense, allowance, forbearance, forgiveness, interest, dividend, royalty, rent, capital gain, reward, severance payment, proceeds from the sale of a financial interest in a corporation, professional corporation, partnership or other entity resulting from termination/withdrawal therefrom upon assumption of public office or employment or any other form of recompense or combination thereof.
The term refers to gross income; it includes prize winnings and tax-exempt income but does not include gifts, governmentally mandated payments or benefits, retirement, pension or annuity payments funded totally by contributions of the public official or employee, or miscellaneous, incidental income of minor dependent children.
Some examples follow: 1) if you receive monthly pension payments of $1,300.00 or more, where the employer has contributed in whole or in part to your pension, or if you own a 401K account that has generated dividends, distributions or capital gains totaling in the aggregate of $1,300.00 or more, you must list it here; 2) if you sell a property and you have capital gains from that property, and each source is $1,300.00 or more, you must list it here; and 3) If, for example, you are a doctor or lawyer and you receive income from multiple individual clients in an amount of greater than $1,300.00, you should list the name and address of your firm or office, not the individual clients.
Further, a State Ethics Commission Regulation on Financial Disclosure provides in relevant part:
(a) The name and address of a direct or indirect source of income, including employers, in the aggregate of $1,300 or more . . . shall be reported, unless the disclosure would require the divulgence of confidential information protected by statute or existing professional codes of ethics or common law privileges.
I own stocks and bonds. What do I need to disclose?
On the City Form, filers need to disclose stocks, bonds, and mutual funds as a source of income if they have generated $500 or more of income, such as dividends, interest or capital gains. You do not need to provide values or amounts of income, and you are not required to disclose the individual holdings of a mutual fund. As a general rule, sources of income that must be disclosed on the City Form include sources of anything reportable as "gross income" on your federal income tax return if it totals $500 or more in the aggregate in the prior calendar year.
In addition to sources of income, a "financial interest in any business organized for profit" is a separate category required to be reported on the City Form. Ownership of stocks and bonds must be disclosed in this category if they involve a business organized for profit and if they are not held through mutual funds. Disclosure is required regardless of whether the business actually made any profit during the previous calendar year.
In terms of reporting investment income on the State Form, a State Ethics Commission Regulation on Financial Disclosure provides in relevant part as follows:
(b) Income from the securities of a particular business equaling or exceeding the [$1,300] reporting threshold, capital gains and dividends equaling or exceeding the [$1,300] reporting threshold shall be listed.
(c) If the income generated equals or exceeds the [$1,300] reporting threshold, mutual funds and other financial plans for individuals may be reported as a single source if the individual has no authority to buy or sell particular assets in the fund.
(d) An individual or an individual and a spouse who has an investment portfolio, with a broker, other than a mutual fund, shall list individually the income from each asset to which subsection (b) applies if the asset may be bought and sold by the individual or by the individual and a spouse.
The State Ethics Commission website also states that if you own a 401(k) account that has generated dividends, distributions, or capital gains totaling in the aggregate of $1,300.00 or more, you must list it as a source of income.
Further, a "financial interest in a legal entity engaged in business for profit" is a separate category required to be reported on the State Form. For purposes of the State Form, a financial interest means either more than 5% of the equity of the business or more than 5% of the assets of the economic interest in indebtedness.
I am a board member of a nonprofit organization. Do I need to disclose my board membership?
Yes. Both the City Form and the State Form require disclosure of "Office, Directorship or Employment in Any Business Entity." When providing your information regarding offices, directorships and employment in business entities, you should include such positions in nonprofit entities as well as for-profit entities. Similarly, the Mayor's Form requires listing all offices and directorships held in any business, association, or other entity, including nonprofits.