GASB addresses pension accounting practice issues

By Ken Tysiac

GASB issued financial reporting guidance Monday that is designed to address practice issues raised during implementation of the board’s new pension accounting standards for state and local governments.

The guidance contained in GASB Statement No. 82, Pension Issues, addresses practice issues related to the following GASB statements:

  • No. 67, Financial Reporting for Pension Plans.
  • No. 68, Accounting and Financial Reporting for Pensions.
  • No. 73, Accounting and Financial Reporting for Pensions and Related Assets That Are Not Within the Scope of GASB Statement 68.

Statement 82 amends Statements 67 and 68 to require the presentation in schedules of required supplementary information of covered payroll—defined as the payroll on which contributions to a pension plan are based—and ratios that use that measure. Previously, Statements 67 and 68 required presentation of covered-employee payroll—which is the payroll of employees that are provided with pensions through the pension plan—and ratios that use that measure.

In addition, Statement 82 clarifies that a deviation, as the term is used in Actuarial Standards of Practice issued by the Actuarial Standards Board, from the guidance in an Actuarial Standard of Practice is not considered to conform with the requirements of Statement 67, Statement 68, or Statement 73 for the selection of assumptions used in determining the total pension liability and related measures.

Statement 82 also clarifies that payments that are made by an employer to satisfy contribution requirements that are identified by the pension plan terms as “plan member contribution requirements” should be classified as “plan member contributions” for purposes of Statement 67 and as “employee contributions” for purposes of Statement 68. Statement 82 also requires an employer’s expense and expenditures for those amounts to be recognized in the period for which the contribution is assessed and classified in the same manner as the employer classifies similar compensation other than pensions (e.g., as salaries and wages or as fringe benefits).

Most of the requirements in Statement 82 take effect for reporting periods beginning after June 15, 2016, with earlier application encouraged. More information about implementation timing is available in Statement 82.

Ken Tysiac (ktysiac@aicpa.org) is a JofA editorial director.

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