Office of Ethics
United States Department of Agriculture

10 Simple Tips to Make the OGE 450 Filing Process Easier

(Updated July 2019)

The tips below and the guidance in FDonline, the electronic filing system, should help you reduce the likelihood of follow-up inquiries from your servicing ethics advisors, the number of inquiries, and the overall time spent responding to such inquiries.  Please do not hesitate to contact the Office of Ethics at https://www.ethics.usda.gov/advisor.htm if you need assistance completing your OGE 450.

IMPORTANT: It is your legal responsibility to provide information on the OGE Form 450 that is complete and accurate. While ethics specialists are available to assist you with this requirement, the ultimate responsibility for preparing the form correctly is yours. Please use the tips below and the instructions in the electronic filing system, FDonline, as tools to help you with this reporting requirement.

1. Asset Valuation (Part I: Assets and Income). You must report in Part I the name of any asset held for investment or the production of income belonging to you, your spouse, or dependent children that ended the reporting period with a value greater than $1,000. You are NOT required to report the asset value. Note: the threshold amount increased from $200 to $1,000.

2. Spousal employment (Part I: Assets and Income).

DO list the NAME of your spouse’s employer or name of business (if spouse is self-employed); and the SOURCE of fees, commissions and other earned income and honoraria greater than $1,000 paid to your spouse; but

DO NOT report the AMOUNT of income or honoraria; and

DO NOT report your spouse’s employment with another Federal agency.

3. Mutual Funds, Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) (FKA Unit Investment Trusts (UITs)), and similar investments (Part I: Assets and Income).

List the full name of the investment (e.g., ABC common stock).

DO report sector funds (e.g., Fidelity Energy Fund) [Failure to list the names of specific funds (not just the name of the fund family) is probably the greatest cause for unnecessary follow-up inquiries.]

[NOTE: Sector Mutual Fund – A mutual fund that concentrates its investments in an industry, business, single country other than the United States, or bonds of a single state within the United States.];

But

DO NOT report the fund VALUE;

DO NOT report diversified mutual funds, including diversified funds held within an employee benefit plan. [NOTE: Diversified Mutual Fund (DMFs) – A mutual fund that does not have a stated policy of concentrating its investments in one industry, business, or single country other than the United States.]; and

DO NOT report your or your spouse’s holdings in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) or Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS).

4. IRA, 401(k), 403(b), 453, Keogh, Virtual Currency, etc. (Part I: Assets and Income). You should report any UNDERLYING assets that you would be required to report if held individually rather than as part of the plan. For example, let’s assume that your Merrill Lynch IRA has three underlying holdings: Fidelity Magellan Growth Fund and Exxon-Mobil stock, each individually valued at more than $1,000; and IBM stock valued at $950 as of the end of the reporting period (December 31st). You also own a Citibank IRA with two underlying assets: the AIM International Growth Fund and the AIM Healthcare Fund, each valued at $22,500. Finally, you have a 401(k) with XYZ Ltd., a former employer. The 401(k) has three underlying holdings, T. Rowe Price Money Market Fund, American Global Index Fund, each valued at $25,000, and XYZ Ltd. stock, valued at $50,000. However, XYZ Ltd. no longer contributes to your 401(k) plan.


ASSET NAME
REPORTABLE?
Merrill Lynch IRA Yes
Fidelity Magellan Growth Fund No
Exxon-Mobil stock Yes
IBM stock No
Citibank IRA Yes
AIM International Growth Fund No
AIM Healthcare Fund Yes
XYZ, Ltd. 401(k) Yes, report in Part I but not Part IV
T. Rowe Price Money Market Fund No
American Global Index Fund No
XYZ Ltd. stock Yes, report in Part I as an underlying holding of the XYZ, Ltd. 401(k)

You need not report the Fidelity Magellan Growth Fund because, for purposes of this example, it is a diversified mutual fund (DMF) or the IBM stock because its value is below the $1,000 reporting threshold. However, you should report the Exxon-Mobil stock as an underlying holding in the Merrill Lynch 401(k) and the AIM Healthcare Fund as the underlying holding in the Citibank IRA because, for purposes of this example, it is a sector fund, not a DMF. You need not report the AIM International Growth Fund because, for purposes of this example, it is a diversified mutual fund. You need not report the XYZ Ltd. 401(k) in Part IV because this former employer no longer contributes to your plan or the American Global Index Fund or T. Rowe Price Money Market Fund in Part I because, for purposes of this example, they qualify as diversified mutual funds. However, report the XYZ Ltd. 401(k) and the XYZ Ltd. stock in Part I. NOTE: A 401(k) account and an IRA are not securities so merely reporting the IRA or 401(k) as standalone assets is insufficient. They are retirement investment accounts that may contain securities, cash and other assets. All IRAs are self-directed because investors choose where to invest their funds. Consequently, you must report the individual assets, i.e., the underlying holdings, in IRA and active 401(k) accounts if they meet the income and other reporting thresholds. DO NOT report assets in your or your spouse’s TSP or FERS accounts.


PART I: ASSETS AND INCOME

INCORRECT
REPORTING:
ASSET NAME:
Merrill Lynch IRA
Citibank IRA
XYZ Ltd. 401(k)

PART I: ASSETS AND INCOME
CORRECT
REPORTING:
ASSET NAME:
Merrill Lynch IRA containing:

Exxon-Mobil (common stock)
Comment: Remaining holding is a DMF

Citibank IRA containing:

AIM Healthcare Fund
Comment: Remaining holding is a DMF

XYZ Ltd. 401(k) containing:

XYZ stock
Comment: Neither my former
employer nor I contribute to this plan.

Filers must also report virtual currency, e.g., Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin, etc., in Part I if the value of the virtual currency was more than $1,000 at the end of the reporting period. Filers must provide the full name of the virtual currency and, if held through a platform or exchange, indicate the name of the platform or exchange.

5. Income Valuation for Funds (Part I: Assets and Income). In determining whether an asset value meets the reporting threshold, you would include earnings that are “rolled back” into the asset. For example, during the course of the year your IBM stock valued at $950 earned $150.00 in dividends that were rolled back. The new stock value of $1,100 as of December 26th meets the income threshold for purposes of the OGE Form 450 and should be reported on the annual report due in February of the following year.

6. Liabilities (Part II). IMPORTANT: OGE 450 filers are not required to report mortgages on their primary residence or rental property as long as the mortgage is from a financial institution or business entity, and the mortgage was granted on terms made available to the general public. If your mortgage meets these criteria, you need NOT report it on the OGE 450 as a liability even though you may have in the past. The following examples may be useful to help you navigate this reporting requirement.

Example 1: You and your former college roommate, Joanne, started a dog-grooming business last year. Joanne’s father loaned you and Joanne the $25,000 franchise fee to start the business. Report this liability in Part II because it is a loan over $10,000 from a friend or business associate. Example 2: You and your spouse divorced last year. You were awarded the family home as part of the property settlement. However, you were unable to pay the monthly mortgage. Your ex-spouse loaned you the money to pay off the $205,000 mortgage, and now you are repaying your ex-spouse through bi-weekly installment payments. Report this liability in Part II. Example 3: You purchased a new $19,000 SUV for your birthday last July. The SUV serves as security for the $19,000 loan. DO NOT report this liability in Part II because the SUV serves a security for the loan, and the loan amount does not exceed the purchase price.

7. Outside Positions (Part III). Report outside positions you currently hold, or held during the reporting period, with non-Federal entities, whether compensated or uncompensated. Report the income source of the position in Part I as well if you received more than $1,000 in compensation. DO NOT report positions you hold as official duty. Please be reminded USDA regulations at 5 CFR 8301 (see https://ecfr.io/Title-05/pt5.3.8301) require prior approval for certain outside activities/employment with non-Federal entities. Locate your ethics advisor at https://www.ethics.usda.gov/index.htm for additional information about this reporting requirement:.

8. Agreements or Arrangements (Part IV). If you are new to Federal service, report the title of your former position with a non-Federal entity in Part IV, if any, and indicate it is no longer held. (Also report the name of your former non-Federal employer in Part I as an income source.) Important change to Part IV for 2019: You are no longer required to report a retirement plan, such as a 401(k) plan, if your former employer no longer contributes to your plan account. Report the source of continued compensation over $1,000 that you received from a former non-Federal employer in the previous year, such as severance pay, or the source of compensation over $1,000 that you will receive from a future non-Federal employer, such as a signing bonus. (Remember to talk to your ethics specialist about future employment with a non-Federal entity.) DO NOT report information about your spouse’s agreements or arrangements.

9. Gifts and Travel Reimbursement (Part V). Report gifts totaling more than $390 that you received from any one source during the reporting period except DO NOT report gifts from relatives, the U.S. Government, D.C., state, or local governments, and gifts you received from a bequest or other form of inheritance. Also report travel-related reimbursements totaling more than $390 (such as lodging, transportation and food) that you received from any one source during the reporting period. However, DO NOT report sponsored travel (1353 travel) given to USDA in connection with your official travel. That means travel related to an AD1101 form you filled out with our office; do not report that as a travel reimbursement. Sponsored travel is considered a gift to the agency not to you. The following EXAMPLE may be useful to help you navigate this reporting requirement. You serve on the board of directors of the Food Lovers Culinary Institute as an approved outside activity and receive an annual honorarium of $5,000 for providing cooking lessons. Last year, you traveled to Paris, France, to attend a conference on behalf of the Institute. The Institute reimbursed you for your travel expenses totaling $2,800. A local Paris shop, Boutique Élan, gave you a $500 gift certificate because you were customer number 500. In Part V: Gifts and Travel Reimbursements, report the following information: (1) Food Lovers Culinary Institute as the source of the $2,800 travel reimbursement and include a comment explaining where you traveled, the purpose, and dates of the trip, (2) Boutique Élan as the source of the gift certificate (You are NOT required to report the amount of the travel reimbursement or the gift certificate value.) and (3) report the Institute as an income source in Part I: Assets and the Institute Board position in Part III: Outside Positions.

10. Inclusion of City and State

Include location (city and state only, not the street address) for the following holdings:

  1. Private businesses listed in Part I: Assets and Income;
  2. Non-publicly traded companies in which you list stock ownership in Part I;
  3. Rental and commercial property or farm listed in Part I;
  4. Creditors listed in Part II: Liabilities; and
  5. Organizations/entities listed in Part III: Outside Positions and Part IV: Agreements or Arrangements.

NOTE: If you own a passive financial interest in a farm or actively engage in farming activities, go to https://www.ethics.usda.gov/rules/guides/farminterests.htm and review "Farming Interests," in the "Financial Disclosure" section of Rules of the Road on our website for further guidance on reporting those interests.