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Improved Financial Reporting

Reference Number: MTAS-743

Due to the nature of the liability associated with retirement income, GASB established financial reporting standards regarding pensions with Statement No. 27. However, the costs of other postretirement benefits, such as group insurance benefits, have never been considered as an “accrued” liability.

As its budget is prepared each year, a government makes appropriation to fund the group-related benefits of its employees and, if applicable, the benefits of its retirees. If part of the employee’s total compensation package includes group insurance benefits at retirement, where is the line item appropriation? Since the payment of this portion of the employee’s compensation is not made until later, often many years later, the promise goes unfunded. Regardless of when the payment is actually made, the liability of the promise is accruing year by year at an ever-increasing cost.

Compensation related to benefits at retirement other than pensions are called other postemployment benefits (OPEBs) and are a part of the exchange of salaries and benefits for employee services rendered. Some of the exchange is used concurrent with the employee’s service as payment of salary and health insurance benefits. OPEBs are the part of compensation taken later when the employee’s services have ended.

The intent of GASB 45 is to account for the unused portion of compensation that has been promised to employees today for payment in the future. These costs of benefits should be accounted for when the promise is made, even if the payment is many years later.