In February 2017, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) issued Accounting Standards Update No. 2017-06, Plan Accounting: Defined Benefit Pension Plans (Topic 960), Defined Contribution Pension Plans (Topic 962), Health and Welfare Benefit Plans (Topic 965), Employee Benefit Plan Master Trust Reporting (“ASU 2017-06”).
ASU 2017-06 relates primarily to the reporting by an employee benefit plan (a plan) for its interest in a master trust. A master trust is a trust for which a regulated financial institution (bank, trust company, or similar financial institution that is regulated, supervised, and subject to periodic examination by a state or federal agency) serves as a trustee or custodian and in which assets of more than one plan sponsored by a single employer or by a group of employers under common control are held.
Under Topic 960, investments in master trusts are presented in a single line item in the statement of net assets available for benefits. Similar guidance is not provided in Topic 962 or 965, which has resulted in diversity in practice. For each master trust in which a plan holds an interest, the amendments in ASU 2017-06 require a plan’s interest in that master trust and any change in that interest to be presented in separate line items in the statement of net assets available for benefits and in the statement of changes in net assets available for benefits, respectively.
Topics 960 and 962 require plans to disclose their percentage interest in the master trust and a list of the investments held by the master trust, presented by general type, within the plan’s financial statements. Stakeholders said that the disclosure can be misleading when the plan has a divided interest in the individual investments of the master trust (that is, when the plan has a specific, rather than a proportionate, interest in the master trust). The amendments in ASU 2017-06 remove the requirement to disclose the percentage interest in the master trust for plans with divided interests and require that all plans disclose the dollar amount of their interest in each of those general types of investments, which supplements the existing requirement to disclose the master trust’s balances in each general type of investments.
Current GAAP does not require disclosure by plans of the master trust’s other assets and liabilities. Examples of those balances include amounts due from brokers for securities sold, amounts due to brokers for securities purchased, accrued interest and dividends, and accrued expenses. Some stakeholders said that disclosure of those balances is necessary to understand the single line item presented in the statement of net assets available for benefits. The amendments in ASU 2017-06 require all plans to disclose (1) their master trust’s other asset and liability balances and (2) the dollar amount of the plan’s interest in each of those balances.
Lastly, investment disclosures (for example, those required by Topics 815 and 820) relating to 401(h) account assets are generally provided in both the defined benefit pension plan financial statements and the health and welfare benefit plan financial statements. Stakeholders noted that the disclosures are redundant. The amendments in ASU 2017-06 remove that redundancy and do not require that the investment disclosures relating to the 401(h) account assets be provided in the health and welfare benefit plan’s financial statements. The amendments will require the health and welfare benefit plan to disclose the name of the defined benefit pension plan in which those investment disclosures are provided, so that participants can easily access those statements for information about the 401(h) account assets, if needed.
The amendments in ASU 2017-06 are effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2018. Early adoption is permitted. An entity should apply the amendments in ASU 2017-06 retrospectively to each period for which financial statements are presented.