Some Pension Funds Drained in Order to Fund Executives’ Benefits

Source: Alliance for Retired Americans, Friday Alert, August 8, 2008

An examination by The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) finds that a range of companies have been quietly converting their pension plans into resources to finance their executives’ retirement benefits and pay. By moving some of the obligations for supplemental pensions into rank-and-file pension plans, companies capture tax breaks intended for pensions of regular workers and use them to pay for executives’ supplemental benefits and compensation. Companies using this tactic have included Intel Corp. and CenturyTel Inc. In addition to being a dubious use of tax law, the practice risks harming regular workers: It can drain assets from pension plans and make them more likely to fail. Ultimately, taxpayers are helping finance executive compensations while companies grow richer. With the current bear market in stocks weakening many pension plans, the maneuver could put more plans in jeopardy.

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