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What is Plan Curtailment?

Plan Curtailment

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Plan Curtailment

In accounting and finance, a plan curtailment refers to a significant reduction in the number of employees covered under a company’s defined benefit pension plan or post-employment benefits plan. This could occur due to a large-scale layoff, the discontinuation of a company’s operations at a certain location, or a company-wide restructuring that results in many employees no longer being eligible for the plan.

The event of a plan curtailment has implications for a company’s financial statements. It would typically require an immediate recognition of the gain or loss associated with the reduction in future obligations of the plan. This is because the company’s projected obligation to the plan has changed, and it may have to adjust the pension or post-employment benefits costs that have been recognized on its balance sheet.

The specific rules and requirements for recognizing a plan curtailment can depend on the accounting standards in use, such as the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) or the U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

Please note that any action leading to a plan curtailment should be carefully planned and managed, taking into account not only the financial implications but also the impact on employees and compliance with relevant labor laws and regulations.

Example of Plan Curtailment

Suppose XYZ Corporation has a defined benefit pension plan for its 1,000 employees. Due to an economic downturn and a strategic shift in business focus, the company decides to close one of its major factories, resulting in 400 employees being laid off. As a result, these 400 employees will no longer contribute to or earn benefits from the pension plan.

This significant reduction in the number of employees covered by the plan is considered a plan curtailment. From an accounting perspective, XYZ Corporation must now recalculate its pension obligations because they have been substantially reduced due to the layoffs.

Let’s say, before the curtailment, XYZ Corporation had projected pension benefit obligations of $20 million. After the layoffs, it recalculates and determines that its new obligations are $12 million. The difference of $8 million represents a curtailment gain, which is typically recognized immediately in the company’s income statement.

This curtailment has immediate implications for XYZ Corporation’s financial reporting, and it will need to disclose this event and its effects in its financial statements. The specific accounting treatment can vary depending on whether the company uses IFRS, US GAAP, or another accounting standard.

Remember, real-world scenarios can be complex, and companies would generally engage with financial advisors and legal counsel when planning and executing significant actions such as large-scale layoffs or plant closures. They would also consider the effect on employees and ensure compliance with labor laws and any contractual obligations.

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