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Introduction to IAS 26 - Accounting and Reporting by Retirement Benefit Plans


Scope

This Standard shall be applied in the financial statements of retirement benefit plans where such financial statements are prepared.

This Standard deals with accounting and reporting by the plan to all participants as a group. It does not deal with reports to individual participants about their retirement benefit rights.

IAS 19 Employee Benefits is concerned with the determination of the cost of retirement benefits in the financial statements of employers having plans. Hence this Standard complements IAS 19.

Retirement benefit plans may be defined contribution plans or defined benefit plans. Many require the creation of separate funds, which may or may not have separate legal identity and may or may not have trustees, to which contributions are made and from which retirement benefits are paid. This Standard applies regardless of whether such a fund is created and regardless of whether there are trustees.

Definitions

The following terms are used in this Standard with the meanings specified:

Retirement benefit plans are arrangements whereby an entity provides benefits for employees on or after termination of service (either in the form of an annual income or as a lump sum) when such benefits, or the contributions towards them, can be determined or estimated in advance of retirement from the provisions of a document or from the entity’s practices.
Defined contribution plans are retirement benefit plans under which amounts to be paid as retirement benefits are determined by contributions to a fund together with investment earnings thereon.
Defined benefit plans are retirement benefit plans under which amounts to be paid as retirement benefits are determined by reference to a formula usually based on employees’ earnings and/or years of service.

Defined contribution plans

The financial statements of a defined contribution plan shall contain a statement of net assets available for benefits and a description of the funding policy.

Defined benefit plans

The financial statements of a defined benefit plan shall contain either:
(a) a statement that shows:
  (i) the net assets available for benefits;
  (ii) the actuarial present value of promised retirement benefits, distinguishing between vested benefits and non-vested benefits; and
  (iii) the resulting excess or deficit; or
(b) a statement of net assets available for benefits including either:
  (i) a note disclosing the actuarial present value of promised retirement benefits, distinguishing between vested benefits and non-vested benefits; or
  (ii) a reference to this information in an accompanying actuarial report.

If an actuarial valuation has not been prepared at the date of the financial statements, the most recent valuation shall be used as a base and the date of the valuation disclosed.

The financial statements shall explain the relationship between the actuarial present value of promised retirement benefits and the net assets available for benefits, and the policy for the funding of promised benefits.

Actuarial present value of promised retirement benefits

The present value of the expected payments by a retirement benefit plan may be calculated and reported using current salary levels or projected salary levels up to the time of retirement of participants.

The reasons given for adopting a current salary approach include:

(a) the actuarial present value of promised retirement benefits, being the sum of the amounts presently attributable to each participant in the plan, can be calculated more objectively than with projected salary levels because it involves fewer assumptions;
(b) increases in benefits attributable to a salary increase become an obligation of the plan at the time of the salary increase; and
(c) the amount of the actuarial present value of promised retirement benefits using current salary levels is generally more closely related to the amount payable in the event of termination or discontinuance of the plan.

Reasons given for adopting a projected salary approach include:

(a) financial information should be prepared on a going concern basis, irrespective of the assumptions and estimates that must be made;
(b) under final pay plans, benefits are determined by reference to salaries at or near retirement date; hence salaries, contribution levels and rates of return must be projected; and
(c) failure to incorporate salary projections, when most funding is based on salary projections, may result in the reporting of an apparent overfunding when the plan is not overfunded, or in reporting adequate funding when the plan is underfunded.

Frequency of actuarial valuations

In many countries, actuarial valuations are not obtained more frequently than every three years. If an actuarial valuation has not been prepared at the date of the financial statements, the most recent valuation is used as a base and the date of the valuation disclosed.

Financial statement content

For defined benefit plans, information is presented in one of the following formats which reflect different practices in the disclosure and presentation of actuarial information:

(a) a statement is included in the financial statements that shows the net assets available for benefits, the actuarial present value of promised retirement benefits, and the resulting excess or deficit. The financial statements of the plan also contain statements of changes in net assets available for benefits and changes in the actuarial present value of promised retirement benefits. The financial statements may be accompanied by a separate actuary’s report supporting the actuarial present value of promised retirement benefits;

(b) financial statements that include a statement of net assets available for benefits and a statement of changes in net assets available for benefits. The actuarial present value of promised retirement benefits is disclosed in a note to the statements. The financial statements may also be accompanied by a report from an actuary supporting the actuarial present value of promised retirement benefits; and

(c) financial statements that include a statement of net assets available for benefits and a statement of changes in net assets available for benefits with the actuarial present value of promised retirement benefits contained in a separate actuarial report.

In each format a trustees’ report in the nature of a management or directors’ report and an investment report may also accompany the financial statements.

All plans

Valuation of plan assets

Retirement benefit plan investments shall be carried at fair value. In the case of marketable securities fair value is market value. Where plan investments are held for which an estimate of fair value is not possible disclosure shall be made of the reason why fair value is not used.

Disclosure

The financial statements of a retirement benefit plan, whether defined benefit or defined contribution, shall also contain the following information:

(a) a statement of changes in net assets available for benefits;
(b) a summary of significant accounting policies; and
(c) a description of the plan and the effect of any changes in the plan during the period.

Effective date

This Standard becomes operative for financial statements of retirement benefit plans covering periods beginning on or after 1 January 1988.



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