6.735.1 Ethic and Conduct Matters: Guidance

Manual Transmittal

August 27, 2015


(1) This transmits revised IRM 6.735.1, Ethics and Conduct Matters, which must be referenced with Document 12011, Plain Talk about Ethics and Conduct (Ethics Handbook), available at http://ccintranet.prod.irscounsel.treas.gov/Common/EthicsLink/Pages/default.aspx.

Material Changes

(1) Clarifies:

  1. Distribution of the Ethics Handbook.

  2. Signature/date on the handbook receipt (Form 13393).

(2) Updates:

  1. Links.

  2. Contact information for assistance.

(3) Removes many ethics rules covered in the Ethics Handbook.

Effect on Other Documents

This IRM supersedes IRM 6.735.1 dated October 15, 2010.


All IRS employees (excluding Chief Counsel).

Effective Date


Lia C. Colbert
Director, Workforce Relations Division
Human Capital Office

Plain Talk About Ethics and Conduct Handbook (Ethics Handbook) Overview

  1. The Federal and Agency ethics regulations are summarized in the Plain Talk about Ethics and Conduct Handbook (Document 12011). All Federal employees are subject to the Office of Government Ethics Standards of Ethical Conduct, which are covered in The Principles of Ethical Conduct and included in the Ethics Handbook. In addition to the Federal ethics rules, the Ethics Handbook includes supplementary Department of Treasury and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ethics rules applicable to all IRS employees.

  2. The Ethics Handbook contains detailed rules including topics such as gifts between employees, conflicts of interest, appearances of a lack of impartiality, government property, outside employment, and post-employment restrictions, and a few examples are summarized in this IRM. You are responsible for familiarizing yourself with the rules in the Ethics Handbook. Failing to abide by the ethics rules could result in disciplinary action, up to and including removal.

  3. Paper copies of the Ethics Handbook are distributed to new IRS employees, which usually occurs at the New Employee Orientation. A detachable receipt, Form 13393, is on the last page of the handbook, or in the product catalog at http://publish.no.irs.gov/cat12.cgi?request=CAT2&itemtyp=F&itemb=13393&items=*, which is used to acknowledge receipt of the handbook as well as the employees’ responsibility to become familiar with the ethics rules to avoid discipline. The employee’s supervisor secures a signed/dated receipt from each new employee, and whenever the handbook is revised, which is filed in the employee’s non-performance folder (drop file) as a permanent document. The signature and date can be an original, electronic, digital or faxed.

Performance of Duty

  1. You are expected to conscientiously perform your duties to the government and the public, respond readily to the direction of your supervisor, and conduct your interactions with fellow employees in a professional, non-confrontational manner.

Observation of Duty Hours

  1. You must observe designated duty hours and be punctual in reporting for work and returning from lunch and breaks. Leave is to be used in accordance with its intended purpose and must be approved in advance whenever possible per IRM 6.610.1, IRS Hours of Duty, at http://publish.no.irs.gov/cat12.cgi?request=CAT1&catnum=20195, IRM 6.630.1, IRS Absence and Leave, at http://publish.no.irs.gov/cat12.cgi?request=CAT1&catnum=54211, and for bargaining unit employees, the Collective Bargaining Agreement (National Agreement).


  1. You are expected to groom yourself in a manner appropriate to the surroundings into which your work assignments take you.

Outside Employment and Business Activities

  1. Outside Employment refers to employment or business activities performed separate from your IRS position and duties. You are generally allowed to engage in outside employment or business activities as long as the employment or activity is consistent with the applicable statutes, regulations, and the Service’s mission.

  2. You must obtain prior approval to engage in outside employment or business activity, with limited exceptions, which may be performed outside your IRS duty hours or while in a pre- approved leave status. Outside employment or business activities may not be performed during IRS duty hours, on Treasury or IRS property, or while teleworking.

  3. Bargaining Unit employees may submit requests for outside employment via the automated "Outside Employment system" (on the IRWeb in the SETR/TAPS link), or with Form 7995, Outside Employment or Business Activity Request, located at http://publish.no.irs.gov/cat12.cgi?request=CAT1&catnum=43844. Note: if you use Form 7995, your immediate manager must input the data from the form into the automated system. Non-bargaining unit employees must submit requests for outside employment via the automated "Outside Employment" system.

  4. Requests for Outside Employment require review/approval (or disapproval) by your first and second-level managers. The review and approval process should be completed within 10 workdays from the date you complete the request. If the request is not timely processed, it is considered denied (disapproved).

  5. After management reviews/approves (or disapproves) your request, one copy is provided to you, one is filed in your non-performance file (drop file), and one is mailed to the consolidated site for Official Personnel Folders (OPF), addressed to: OPF Consolidated Site, 440 Space Center Drive, Lee’s Summit, MO 64064, for filing in your OPF, as required by 5 CFR 3101.104.

  6. After the request is approved, you must advise your immediate manager if any of the following occur:

    1. a change in IRS position or duties;

    2. a change in Outside Employment or business activity position or duties; or

    3. no longer performing the Outside Employment or business activity.

    If a. or b. occurs, and you are still performing the Outside Employment or business activity, a new request must be submitted. Managers will update and delete the previously-approved request(s) in the automated system if any of the above occur, and the record will move to the historic files.

  7. Managers must annually review approved Outside Employment requests, in the automated system, and update the request with the date the annual review was conducted. The annual review is to ensure the information is still accurate and does not conflict with the employee’s current IRS duties.

Impartiality in Performing IRS Duties

  1. You may need to disqualify yourself from participating in an IRS matter even if the situation is not explicitly covered by the conflict of interest provisions or the impartiality rules. If you think a reasonable person could question how impartial you might be, you must not participate unless someone in your management chain, after consultation with the Deputy Ethics Official, authorizes you to do so. For example, you are not considered to have a covered relationship with your best friend; however, the ethics rules could require your disqualification from a matter involving your friend’s financial interests, if a reasonable person would question your impartiality.

Authorities and Resources

  1. Details regarding the above examples of ethics rules are covered in the Plain Talk About Ethics and Conduct Handbook (Document 12011), the EthicsLink website at http://ccintranet.prod.irscounsel.treas.gov/Common/EthicsLink/Pages/default.aspx, and in the following authorities:

    • 5 CFR 735, Employee Responsibilities and Conduct 5 CFR 2635, Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch

    • 5 CFR 3101, Supplemental Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Department of Treasury

    • 31 CFR Part 0, Department of the Treasury Employee Rules of Conduct

    • Plain Talk About Ethics and Conduct (Document 12011) including the addendum for Outside Employment and Business Activity

    • Employee Resource Center at http://erc.web.irs.gov/Displayanswers/Question.asp?FolderID=3&CategoryID=7

Contact Information for Assistance

  1. Ethics and conduct rules are sometimes complex and may require analysis to apply to a specific situation. If you need assistance, talk to your manager or the Deputy Ethics Official (DEO) via e-mail at GLS.Ethics@irscounsel.treas.gov or by phone at (202) 317-6999.

  2. Managers who need assistance with ethics or conduct matters should contact their servicing Labor/Employee Relations office which can be found via the following link: http://hco.web.irs.gov/apps/staffdir/lrcontactguide.pdf, or contact the DEO via e-mail at GLS.Ethics@irscounsel.treas.gov or by phone at (202) 317-6999.