FASB Issues Exposure Drafts for Simplification of Employee Benefit Plan Reporting

On April 23, 2015, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued three exposure drafts in conjunction with its project to simplify financial reporting requirements for employee benefit plans.  The exposure drafts are the result of deliberations held by the Emerging Issue Task Force (EITF).

The exposure drafts relate to fully benefit-responsive investment contracts, plan investment disclosures and a measurement date practical expedient.  The following is a summary of the main provisions of each exposure draft:

Fully Benefit-Responsive Investment Contracts

Current practice requires fully benefit-responsive investment contracts to be measured at contract value with an adjustment to reconcile contract value to fair value on the face of the plan financial statements.  Many have suggested that this presentation does not provide decision-useful information when fair value differs from contract value.  The proposed update would require that fully benefit-responsive investment contracts to be measured, presented, and disclosed only at contract value.  However, plans would continue to disclose information to assist users in understanding the nature and risks of fully benefit-responsive investment contracts.  

Plan Investment Disclosures

The proposed amendment to investment disclosures would eliminate the requirement to disclose (a) individual investments that represent 5% or more of net assets available for benefits and (b) the net appreciation or depreciation for investments by general type for both participant-directed and nonparticipant-directed investments. Additionally, the amendment would allow fair value of investments to be disclosed by general type, thereby eliminating the need to disaggregate investments in multiple ways.

Measurement Date Practical Expedient

The proposed amendment would provide a practical expedient to permit plans to measure investments and investment-related accounts as of a month-end date that is closest to the plan’s fiscal year-end, when the fiscal period does not coincide with month-end.  The plan would be required to disclose the practical expedient as an accounting policy election as well as the measurement date utilized.  If a significant event were to occur between the measurement date and the plan’s fiscal year-end, disclosure regarding the amount of the contribution, distribution, and/or significant event would be required.

The amendments for fully benefit-responsive investment contracts and plan investment disclosures would be applied retrospectively, while amendments for the measurement date practical expedient would be applied prospectively.  Comments are due by May 18, 2015.

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