Summary - Statement No. 97

Summaries / Status

Summary of Statement No. 97
Certain Component Unit Criteria, and Accounting and Financial Reporting for Internal Revenue Code Section 457 Deferred Compensation Plans—an amendment of GASB Statements No. 14 and No. 84, and a supersession of GASB Statement No. 32

(Issued 06/20)


The primary objectives of this Statement are to (1) increase consistency and comparability related to the reporting of fiduciary component units in circumstances in which a potential component unit does not have a governing board and the primary government performs the duties that a governing board typically would perform; (2) mitigate costs associated with the reporting of certain defined contribution pension plans, defined contribution other postemployment benefit (OPEB) plans, and employee benefit plans other than pension plans or OPEB plans (other employee benefit plans) as fiduciary component units in fiduciary fund financial statements; and (3) enhance the relevance, consistency, and comparability of the accounting and financial reporting for Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 457 deferred compensation plans (Section 457 plans) that meet the definition of a pension plan and for benefits provided through those plans.

This Statement requires that for purposes of determining whether a primary government is financially accountable for a potential component unit, except for a potential component unit that is a defined contribution pension plan, a defined contribution OPEB plan, or an other employee benefit plan (for example, certain Section 457 plans), the absence of a governing board should be treated the same as the appointment of a voting majority of a governing board if the primary government performs the duties that a governing board typically would perform.

This Statement also requires that the financial burden criterion in paragraph 7 of Statement No. 84, Fiduciary Activities, be applicable to only defined benefit pension plans and defined benefit OPEB plans that are administered through trusts that meet the criteria in paragraph 3 of Statement No. 67, Financial Reporting for Pension Plans, or paragraph 3 of Statement No. 74, Financial Reporting for Postemployment Benefit Plans Other Than Pension Plans, respectively.

This Statement (1) requires that a Section 457 plan be classified as either a pension plan or an other employee benefit plan depending on whether the plan meets the definition of a pension plan and (2) clarifies that Statement 84, as amended, should be applied to all arrangements organized under IRC Section 457 to determine whether those arrangements should be reported as fiduciary activities.

This Statement supersedes the remaining provisions of Statement No. 32, Accounting and Financial Reporting for Internal Revenue Code Section 457 Deferred Compensation Plans, as amended, regarding investment valuation requirements for Section 457 plans. As a result, investments of all Section 457 plans should be measured as of the end of the plan’s reporting period in all circumstances.
 

Effective Date


The requirements of this Statement that (1) exempt primary governments that perform the duties that a governing board typically performs from treating the absence of a governing board the same as the appointment of a voting majority of a governing board in determining whether they are financially accountable for defined contribution pension plans, defined contribution OPEB plans, or other employee benefit plans and (2) limit the applicability of the financial burden criterion in paragraph 7 of Statement 84 to defined benefit pension plans and defined benefit OPEB plans that are administered through trusts that meet the criteria in paragraph 3 of Statement 67 or paragraph 3 of Statement 74, respectively, are effective immediately.

The requirements of this Statement that are related to the accounting and financial reporting for Section 457 plans are effective for fiscal years beginning after June 15, 2021. For purposes of determining whether a primary government is financially accountable for a potential component unit, the requirements of this Statement that provide that for all other arrangements, the absence of a governing board be treated the same as the appointment of a voting majority of a governing board if the primary government performs the duties that a governing board typically would perform, are effective for reporting periods beginning after June 15, 2021. Earlier application of those requirements is encouraged and permitted by requirement as specified within this Statement.

The Board considered the effective dates for the requirements of this Statement in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and in concert with Statement No. 95, Postponement of the Effective Dates of Certain Authoritative Guidance.
 

How the Changes in This Statement Will Improve Financial Reporting


The requirements of this Statement will result in more consistent financial reporting of defined contribution pension plans, defined contribution OPEB plans, and other employee benefit plans, while mitigating the costs associated with reporting those plans. The requirements also will enhance the relevance, consistency, and comparability of (1) the information related to Section 457 plans that meet the definition of a pension plan and the benefits provided through those plans and (2) investment information for all Section 457 plans.
 

How the Board Considered Costs and Benefits in the Development of This Statement


One of the principles guiding the Board’s setting of standards for accounting and financial reporting is the assessment of expected benefits and perceived costs. The Board strives to determine that its standards address significant user needs and that the costs incurred through the application of its standards, compared with possible alternatives, are justified when compared to the expected overall public benefit.

Regarding the requirements related to certain component unit criteria, the Board believes that the expected benefits of reporting certain defined contribution pension plans, defined contribution OPEB plans, and other employee benefit plans as fiduciary component units in a government’s fiduciary fund financial statements do not justify the perceived costs. Therefore, this Statement requires that a primary government not be subject to certain component unit criteria such that those arrangements should be reported as fiduciary component units only if other component unit criteria are met.

Regarding the requirements related specifically to Section 457 plans, the Board believes that the expected benefits of the information provided through implementation of this Statement—(1) more relevant, consistent, and comparable information about Section 457 plans that meet the definition of a pension plan and about benefits provided through those plans and (2) more relevant investment information for all Section 457 plans—are significant and justify the perceived costs of implementation and ongoing compliance.


 


Unless otherwise specified, pronouncements of the GASB apply to financial reports of all state and local governmental entities, including general purpose governments; public benefit corporations and authorities; public employee retirement systems; and public utilities, hospitals and other healthcare providers, and colleges and universities. Paragraph 2 discusses the applicability of this Statement.