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What Information Should I Include on a Disclosure Form?

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  • Written By: Harriette Halepis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 March 2018
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Public officials and employees within the United States must file financial disclosure forms periodically. Failure to do so results in a violation of the U.S. Ethics Law, and can result in a hefty fine couple with jail time. The purpose of a disclosure form is to present the public with a detailed account of all public funds.

Those public officials that are required to file a financial disclosure form include elected officials, school board members, candidates for state, school district officials, upper-level state employees, and members of sovereign-power state commissions. A disclosure form contains basic information about the official in question, along with detailed financial information. Basic information includes an official's legal name, address, date of birth, and other identifying facts.

The financial information that must be included on a disclosure form is incredibly detailed. Sources of income, investments that equal more than $1000 US Dollars (USD), offices or boards that a member is part of, travel expenses, meal expenses, gifts totaling more than $75 USD, debtors and creditors, and investments. Any city of school board member who has a total yearly income that is less than $16,000 USD must also file a disclosure form, though this type of form contains different information.

Clearly, this type of form was meant to disclose all spending habits of government officials. Through these forms, citizens can determine whether or not state money has been spent wisely. When a form discloses that an official has been abusing funds, this official is then questioned by legal authorities.

On occasion, public officials have been caught entering false numbers into a disclosure form. When this occurs, the public official in question is fine, fired, and sent to trial. Failure by a public official to create a form often results in an investigation. Each year, a specific date is chosen as a disclosure form deadline. Any official who does not meet this deadline is fined according to state laws.

Every state within the United States asks public officials to file these forms. Around the globe, similar forms are often filed by elected officials in other countries, though this is not always the case. Some countries do not require public officials to disclose spending habits in any manner. Whether one system is better than the other has yet to be seen, though it can be said that many U.S. officials have been justly fined for falsifying these documents, and for illegal use of state funds.

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