5 CFR § 2634.304 - Gifts and reimbursements.

§ 2634.304 Gifts and reimbursements.

(a) Gifts. Except reports required under § 2634.201(f) and as indicated in § 2634.310(b), each financial disclosure report filed pursuant to this subpart must contain the identity of the source, a brief description, and the value of all gifts aggregating more than $480 in value which are received by the filer during the reporting period from any one source. For in-kind travel-related gifts, include a travel itinerary, dates, and nature of expenses provided.

Note 1 to paragraph (a):

Under the Ethics in Government Act, 5 U.S.C. 13104(a)(2)(A) and (B), the reporting thresholds for gifts, reimbursements, and travel expenses are tied to the dollar amount for the “minimal value” threshold for foreign gifts established by the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act, 5 U.S.C. 7342(a)(5). The General Services Administration (GSA), in consultation with the Secretary of State, redefines the value every 3 years. In 2023, the amount was set at $480. In paragraph (d) of this section, the Office of Government Ethics sets the aggregation exception amount and redefines the value every 3 years. In 2023, the amount was set at $192. The Office of Government Ethics will update this part in 2026 and every three years thereafter to reflect the new amounts.

(b) Reimbursements. Except as indicated in §§ 2634.309 and 2634.310(b), each financial disclosure report filed pursuant to this subpart must contain the identity of the source, a brief description (including a travel itinerary, dates, and the nature of expenses provided), and the value of any travel-related reimbursements aggregating more than $480 in value, which are received by the filer during the reporting period from any one source. The filer is not required to report travel reimbursements received from the filer's non-Federal employer.

(c) Exclusions. Reports need not contain any information about gifts and reimbursements to which the provisions of this section would otherwise apply which are received from relatives (see § 2634.105(o)) or during a period in which the filer was not an officer or employee of the Federal Government. Additionally, any food, lodging, or entertainment received as “personal hospitality of any individual,” as defined in § 2634.105(k), need not be reported. See also exclusions specified in the definitions of gift and reimbursement, at § 2634.105(h) and (n).

(d) Aggregation exception. Any gift or reimbursement with a fair market value of $192 or less need not be aggregated for purposes of the reporting rules of this section. However, the acceptance of gifts, whether or not reportable, is subject to the restrictions imposed by Executive Order 12674, as modified by Executive Order 12731, and the implementing regulations on standards of ethical conduct.

Example 1:
An official accepts a print, a pen and pencil set, and a letter opener from a community service organization he has worked with solely in his private capacity. He determines, in accordance with paragraph (e) of this section, that these gifts are valued as follows:
Gift 1—Print: $280
Gift 2—Pen and pencil set: $225
Gift 3—Letter opener: $20
The official must disclose Gifts 1 and 2, since together they aggregate more than $480 in value from the same source. Gift 3 need not be aggregated, because its value does not exceed $192.
Example 2:
An official receives the following gifts from a single source:

1. Dinner for two at a local restaurant—$200.

2. Round-trip taxi fare to meet donor at the restaurant—$25.

3. Dinner at donor's city residence—(value uncertain).

4. Round-trip airline transportation and hotel accommodations to visit Epcot Center in Florida—$600.

5. Weekend at donor's country home, including duck hunting and tennis match—(value uncertain).

Based on the minimal value threshold established in 2023, the official need only disclose Gift 4. Gift 1 falls within the exclusion in § 2634.105(h)(4) for food and beverages not consumed in connection with a gift of overnight lodging. Gifts 3 and 5 need not be disclosed because they fall within the exception for personal hospitality of an individual. Gift 2 need not be aggregated and reported, because its value does not exceed $192.

Example 3:
A non-Federal organization asks an official to speak at an out-of-town meeting on a matter that is unrelated to her official duties and her agency. She accepts the invitation and travels on her own time to the event. The round-trip airfare costs $500. Based on the minimal value threshold established in 2023, the official must disclose the value of the plane ticket whether the organization pays for the ticket directly or reimburses her for her purchase of the ticket.

(e) Valuation of gifts and reimbursements. The value to be assigned to a gift or reimbursement is its fair market value in the United States. For most reimbursements, this will be the amount actually received. For gifts, the value should be determined in one of the following manners:

(1) Except as provided in paragraph (e)(4) of this section, if the gift is readily available in the market, the value is its retail price. The filer need not contact the donor, but may contact a retail establishment selling similar items to determine the present cost in the market.

(2) If the item is not readily available in the market, such as a piece of art, a handmade item, or an antique, the filer may make a good faith estimate of the value of the item.

(3) The term “readily available in the market” means that an item generally is available for retail purchase.

(4) The market value of a ticket entitling the holder to attend an event which includes food, refreshments, entertainment, or other benefits is the face value of the ticket, which may exceed the actual cost of the food and other benefits.

Items such as a pen and pencil set, letter opener, leather case, or engraved pen are generally available in the market and can be determined by researching the retail price for each item online.

(f) Waiver rule in the case of certain gifts. In unusual cases, the value of a gift as defined in § 2634.105(h) need not be aggregated for reporting threshold purposes under this section, and therefore the gift need not be reported on a public financial disclosure report, if the Director of the Office of Government Ethics grants a publicly available waiver to a public filer.

(1) Standard. If the Director receives a written request for a waiver, the Director will issue a waiver upon determining that:

(i) Both the basis of the relationship between the grantor and the grantee and the motivation behind the gift are personal; and

(ii) No countervailing public purpose requires public disclosure of the nature, source, and value of the gift.

The Secretary of Education and her spouse receive the following two wedding gifts: (A) A crystal decanter valued at $540 from the Secretary's former college roommate and lifelong friend, who is a real estate broker in Wyoming; and (B) A gift of a print valued at $500 from a business partner of the spouse, who owns a catering company. Under these circumstances, the Director of OGE may grant a request for a waiver of the requirement to report on a public financial disclosure report each of these gifts.

(2) Public disclosure of waiver request. If approved in whole or in part, the cover letter requesting the waiver and the waiver will be subject to the public disclosure requirements in § 2634.603. Enclosures to the cover letter, required by paragraph (3)(ii) of this section, are not covered by § 2634.603.

(3) Procedure.

(i) A public filer seeking a waiver under this section must submit a request to the designated agency ethics official for the employee's agency. The designated agency ethics official must sign a cover letter that identifies the filer and the filer's position and states that a waiver is requested under this section. To the extent practicable, the designated agency ethics official should avoid including other personal identifying information about the employee in the cover letter.

(ii) In an enclosure to the cover letter, the filer must set forth:

(A) The identity and occupation of the donor;

(B) A statement that the relationship between the donor and the filer is personal in nature;

(C) An explanation of all relevant circumstances surrounding the gift, including whether any donor is a prohibited source, as defined in § 2635.203(d), or represents a prohibited source and whether the gift was given because of the employee's official position; and

(D) A brief description of the gift and the value of the gift.

(iii) With respect to the information required in paragraph (f)(3)(ii) of this section, if a gift has more than one donor, the filer shall provide the necessary information for each donor.

(iv) The Director will approve or disapprove any request for a waiver in writing. In the event that a waiver is granted, the Director will avoid including personal information about the filer to the extent practicable.

[83 FR 33981, July 18, 2018, as amended at 85 FR 36716, June 18, 2020; 88 FR 37754, June 9, 2023]