Where to begin?
Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal ran an expose on the hoops companies jump through to fund executive pensions. They do it quietly, tweak the pensions of lower-level employees (sometimes in dollars per month) and end up with a big tax shelter for thousands of dollars.
Little-Known Move Uses Tax Break Meant For Rank and FileBy ELLEN E. SCHULTZ and THEO FRANCIS
At a time when scores of companies are freezing pensions for their workers, some are quietly converting their pension plans into resources to finance their executives’ retirement benefits and pay.
In recent years, companies from Intel Corp. to CenturyTel Inc. collectively have moved hundreds of millions of dollars of obligations for executive benefits into rank-and-file pension plans. This lets companies capture tax breaks intended for pensions of regular workers and use them to pay for executives’ supplemental benefits and compensation.
The practice has drawn scant notice. A close examination by The Wall Street Journal shows how it works and reveals that the maneuver, besides being a dubious use of tax law, risks harming regular workers. It can drain assets from pension plans and make them more likely to fail. Now, with the current bear market in stocks weakening many pension plans, this practice could put more in jeopardy. Onward to WSJ >>