The extensive disclosure mandated for defined benefit pension plans by FAS 87 resulted in part from the ongoing controversy concerning the nature of the pension plan obligation. Based on a review of the pension chapters of seven intermediate accounting texts, conflicting perspectives of the nature of the plan obligation have not been thoroughly and appropriately integrated in textbook discussions of FAS 87 reporting requirements. The objective of this article is to present a teaching method which interprets the reporting requirements of FAS 87 as a reconciliation of the conflicting perspectives concerning the pension obligations. Examples are provided demonstrating how FAS 87 reconciles the opposing perspectives in the basic financial statement presentation, and how the perspectives are useful in understanding the reporting requirements related to the minimum liability and actuarial gains and losses.
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