26 CFR 1.412(c)(2)-1 - Valuation of plan assets; reasonable actuarial valuation methods.
(1)In general. This section prescribes rules for valuing plan assets under an actuarial valuation method which satisfies the requirements of section 412(c)(2)(A). An actuarial valuation method is a funding method within the meaning of section 412(c)(3) and the regulations thereunder. Therefore, certain changes affecting the actuarial valuation method are identified in this section as changes in a plan's funding method.
(2)Exception for certain bonds, etc. The rules of this section do not apply to bonds or other evidences of indebtedness for which the election described in section 412(c)(2)(B) has been made, nor are such assets counted in applying paragraphs (b) or (c) of this section. Also, an election under section 412(c)(2)(B) is not a change in funding method within the meaning of section 412(c)(5).
(3)Money purchase pension plan. A money purchase pension plan must value assets for the purpose of satisfying the requirements of section 412(c)(2)(A) solely on the basis of their fair market value (under paragraph (c) of this section).
(4)Defined benefit plans.
(ii) In general, the purpose of paragraph (b) of this section is to permit use of reasonble actuarial valuation methods designed to mitigate short-run changes in the fair market value of plan assets. The funding of plan benefits and the charges and credits to the funding standard account required by section 412 are generally based upon the assumption that the defined benefit plan will be continued by the employer. Thus, short-run changes in the value of plan assets presumably will offset one another in the long term. Accordingly, in the determination of the amount required to be contributed under section 412 it is generally not necessary to recognize fully each change in fair market value of the assets in the period in which it occurs.
(iii) The asset valuation rules contained in paragraph (b) produce a “smoothing” effect. Thus, investment performance, including appreciation or depreciation in the market value of the assets occurring in each plan year, may be recognized gradually over several plan years. This “smoothing” is in addition to the “smoothing” effect which results, for example, from amortizing experience losses and gains over 15 or 20 years under section 412(b)(2 (B)(iv) and (3)(B)(ii).
(b)Asset valuation method requirements -
(i) The actuarial asset valuation method must be applied on a consistent basis. Any change in meeting the requirements of this paragraph (b) is a change in funding method subject to section 412(c)(5).
(2)Statement of plan's method. The method of determining the actuarial value (but not fair market value) of the assets must be specified in the plan's actuarial report (required under section 6059). The method must be described in sufficient detail so that another actuary employing the method described would arrive at a reasonably similar result. Whether a deviation from the stated actuarial valuation method is a change in funding method is to be determined in accordance with section 412(c)(5) and the regulations thereunder. A deviation to include a type of asset not previously held by the plan would not be a change in funding method.
(3)Consistent valuation dates. The same day or days (such as the first or the last day of a plan year) must be used for all purposes to value the plan's assets for each plan year, or portion of plan year, for which a valuation is made. For purposes of this section, each such day is a valuation date. A change in the day or days used is a change in funding method.
(ii) Average value (determined under paragraph (b)(7) of this section) of the plan's assets as of the applicable asset valuation date. This is done either directly in the computation of their actuarial value or indirectly in the computation of upper or lower limits placed on that value.
(5)Results above and below fair market or average value. A method will not satisfy the requirements of this paragraph (b) if it is designed to produce a result which will be consistently above or below the values described in paragraph (b)(4) (i) and (ii). However, a method designed to produce a result which consistently falls between fair market value and average value will satisfy this requirement. See Example 5 in paragraph (b)(9) of this section for an illustration of a method described in the preceding sentence.
(i) Regardless of how the method reflects fair market value under paragraph (b)(4), the method must result in an actuarial value of the plan's assets which is not less than a minimum amount and not more than a maximum amount. The minimum amount is the lesser of 80 percent of the current fair market value of plan assets as of the applicable asset valuation date or 85 percent of the average value (as described in subparagraph (7)) of plan assets as of that date. The maximum amount is the greater of 120 percent of the current fair market value of plan assets as of the applicable asset valuation date or 115 percent of the average value of plan assets as of that date.
(ii) Under a plan's method, a preliminary computation of the expected actuarial value may fall outside the prescribed corridor. A method meets the requirements of paragraph (b)(6)(i) of this section is such a case only by adjusting the expected actuarial value to the nearest corridor limit applicable under the method. A plan may use an actuarial valuation method with a narrower corridor than the general corridor required under paragraph (b)(6)(i). The adjustment to the nearest corridor limit of such a method for purposes of this subdivision (ii) would be determined by the narrower corridor stated in the description of the plan's method.
(7)Average value. the average value of plan assets is computed by -
(i) Determining the fair market value of plan assets at least annually,
(ii) Adding the current fair market value of the assets (as of the applicable valuation date) and their adjusted values (as described in paragraph (b)(8) of this section) for a stated period not to exceed the five most recent plan years (including the current year), and
(i) the adjusted value of plan assets for a prior valuation date is their fair market value on that date with certain positive and negative adjustments. These adjustments reflect changes that occur between the prior asset valuation date and the current valuation date. However, no adjustment is made for increases or decreases in the total value of plan assets that result from the purchase, sale, or exchange of plan assets or from the receipt of payment on a debt obligation held by the plan.
(ii) In determining the adjusted value of plan assets for a prior valuation date, there is added to the fair market value of the plan assets of that date the sum of all additions to the plan assets since that date, excluding appreciation in the fair market value of the assets. The additions would include, for example, any contribution to the plan; any interest or dividend paid to the plan; and any asset not taken into account in a prior valuation of assets, but taken into account for the current year, in computing the fair market value of plan assets under paragraph (c) of this section.
(iii) In determining the adjusted value of plan assets for a prior valuation date, there is subtracted from the fair market value of the plan assets on that date the sum of all reductions in plan assets since that date, excluding depreciation in the fair market value of the assets. The reductions would include, for example, any benefit paid from plan assets; any expense paid from plan assets; and any asset taken into account in a prior valuation of assets but not taken into account for the current year, in computing the fair market value of plan assets under paragraph (c) of this section.
(9)Examples. This paragraph (b) may be illustrated by the following examples. In each example, assume that the pension plan uses a consistent actuarial method of valuing its assets within the meaning of paragraph (b)(1), (2), and (3) of this section.
(i) The average value as of December 31, 1988, is computed as follows:
|Fair market value: Jan. 1||$150,000||$196,500||$238,000|
|Interest and dividends||8,000||44,500||7,500||38,500||7,000||240,500|
|Net realized gains (losses)||(2,000)||6,000||(8,000)|
|Balancing item 1||4,000||(3,000)||(42,000)|
|Fair market value: Dec. 31||196,500||238,000||228,000|
1 This equals the increase (decrease) in unrealized appreciation.
|Fair market value: Dec. 31||$150,000||$196,500||$238,000||$228,000|
|Average value: 1988 = $273,500 $275,500 $278,500 $228,000 ÷ 4 = $263,875|
(c)Fair market value of assets -
(1)General rules. Except as otherwise provided in this paragraph (c), the fair market value of a plan's assets for purposes of this section is the price at which the property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or sell and both having reasonable knowledge of relevant facts.
(d)Methods for taking into account the fair market value of certain agreements. [Reserved]
(e)Effective date and transition rules -
(2)Special rule for certain plan years. For plan years beginning prior to November 12, 1980, the amounts required to be determined under section 412 may be computed on the basis of any reasonable actuarial method of asset valuation which takes into account the fair market value of the plan's assets, even if the method does not meet all of the requirements of paragraphs (a) through (c) of this section.
(3)Plan years beginning on or after November 12, 1980. Paragraphs (a) through (c) of this section apply beginning with the first valuation of plan assets made for a plan year to which section 412 applies that begins on or after November 12, 1980. The statement of the plan's actuarial asset valuation method required by paragraph (b)(2) of this section must be included with the plan's actuarial report for that year, in addition to any subsequent reports.
(4)Effect of change of asset valuation method. A plan which is required to change its asset valuation method to comply with paragraphs (a) through (c) of this section must make the change no later than the time when the plan is first required to comply with this section under paragraph (e)(3). A method of adjustment must be used to take account of any difference in the actuarial value of the plan's assets based on the old and new valuation methods. The plan may use either -
(i) A method of adjustment described in paragraph (e)(5) or (e)(6) of this section without prior approval by the Commissioner, or
(ii) Any other method of adjustment if the Commissioner gives prior approval under section 412(c)(5).
(5)Retroactive recomputation method.
(i) Under this method of adjustment, the plan recomputes the balance of the funding standard account as of the beginning of the first plan year for which it uses its new asset valuation method to comply with paragraphs (a) through (c) of this section. This new balance is recomputed by retroactively applying the plan's new method as of the first day of the first plan year to which section 412 applies.
(ii) Beginning with the first plan year for which it uses its new method, the plan computes the normal cost and amortization charges and credits to the funding standard account based on the retroactive application of its new method as of the first day of the first plan year to which section 412 applies.
(iii) If the recomputed aggregate charges exceed the recomputed aggregate credits to the funding standard account as of the end of the first plan year for which the plan uses its new method, an additional contribution to the plan may be necessary to avoid an accumulated funding deficiency in that year. The use of the retroactive recomputation method may also result in an accumulated funding deficiency for years prior to that first year. In such cases, the rules of section 412(c)(10), relating to the time when certain contributions are deemed to have been made, apply.
(6)Prospective gain or loss adjustment method.
(ii) Regardless of the type of funding method used by a plan, the difference in the value of the assets under the old and the new asset valuation methods may be treated as arising from an experience loss or gain; or alternatively it may be treated as arising from a change in actuarial assumptions.
(iii) The treatment of this difference as an experience gain or loss or as a change in actuarial assumptions must be consistent with the treatment of such gains, losses, or changes under the funding method used by the plan. Thus, if a plan uses a spread gain type funding method other than the aggregate cost method, the difference in the value of assets under the old and the new asset valuation methods may be either amortized or spread over future periods as a part of normal cost. Examples of this type of funding method are the frozen initial liability cost method and the attained age normal cost method. With an aggregate method, the difference in the value of assets under the old and the new asset valuation methods must be spread over future periods as a part of normal cost.