As routine as the changing of the seasons, every year, Truth in Accounting (TIA) produces a new report which declares that taxpayers across the country will somehow have to foot a huge tax bill immediately to pay for their state’s unfunded pension liabilities. However, a recent working paper from the Brookings Institution shows this is not a truthful depiction of how public pension funding works. 

TIA often argues that taxpayers are responsible for paying their city and/or state’s unfunded liabilities in a few ways. First, if a pension isn’t at 100% funded status in the course of a given year, they state that the pension is somehow in grave jeopardy and that its unfunded liabilities need to be paid immediately to ensure the pension is “debt-free.” They then calculate a supposed “taxpayer burden,” or an amount each taxpayer will have to pay to meet their state or local pension’s unfunded liabilities. 

These tactics, which are often amplified by news outlets critical of public pensions such as the Center Square, are designed to elicit fear that taxpayers will have to fork over a large bill at some point in the future for their area’s pensions. 

Author(s): Tristan Fitzpatrick

Publication Date: 2 June 2021

Publication Site: National Public Pension Coalition

GASB proposals would stretch meaning of accrual accounting

Link: https://www.accountingtoday.com/opinion/gasb-proposals-would-stretch-meaning-of-accrual-accounting


Every taxpayer and beneficiary of government services and benefits should care about good government accounting. Accountants and other financial professionals should take special note because GASB is attempting to change one of the basic tenets of accounting. This is a rare opportunity to convince GASB to reverse course and move toward true accrual accounting in budgeted funds statements.

GASB currently has two exposure drafts out for public comment: Project 3-20, “Recognition of Elements of Financial Statements,” and Project 3-25, “Financial Reporting Model Improvements.” Together, these proposals assert a foundation in something called the “short term financial resources measurement focus and accrual basis of accounting.”

The proposals, most importantly, do not relate to government-wide financial statements such as the Statement of Net Position (a balance sheet) and Statement of Activities (an income statement), both of which have significantly firmed up their accrual accounting foundations in the last decade. GASB’s proposals relate instead to governmental funds statements, such as those for general funds, which are widely used for budgeting purposes.

Author(s): Bill Bergman

Publication Date: 11 February 2021

Publication Site: Accounting Today