Issued: April 29, 2011
Impact: All US GAAP

A number of companies have created duplicate elements for pension-related transactions, such as benefits paid.

The element DefinedBenefitPlanBenefitsPaid reduces the pension obligation.  It also reduces the fair value of pension plan assets.  This item is defined in the taxonomy as a debit item to reflect the reduction in pension obligation.  As a result, a number of companies created a duplicate benefits paid credit element to reflect the reduction in plan assets.  This extension duplication makes it impossible to analyze the data as valid extensions cannot be separated from the duplicated extensions that represent valid elements in the taxonomy.


In the case of the roll-forward of Plan Assets, the following extensions were created that should have used existing elements:

DefinedBenefitPlanBenefitsPaidPlanAssets 5
DefinedBenefitPlanChangeInFairValueOfPlanAssetsBenefitsPaid 24
DefinedBenefitPlanChangeInFairValueOfPlanAssetsContributionsByPlanParticipants 19
DefinedBenefitPlanFairValueOfPlanAssetsBenefitsPaid 17
DefinedBenefitPlanFairValueOfPlanAssetsContributionsByPlanParticipants 7


If the value of a reported amount is the same, regardless if it is a debit or a credit side of a journal entry, it should be represented as a single XBRL concept. Use the same element to represent those items that will have the same value, irrespective if they are expressed as a debit or a credit.  Adjust the calculation weight, if necessary.  The increase/decrease summation of a roll-forward item should not have a balance type. When the change in balance in a roll-forward does not have a balance type, this indicates that a duplicate element for the flip side of the journal should not have a separate extension element.

The value of DefinedBenefitPlanBenefitsPaid should be a positive instance value.