The American Society of Appraisers Testifies at Employee Benefits Service Administration, Department of Labor Hearing

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On March 2, 2011 the American Society of Appraisers testified at an Employee Benefits Service Administration (EBSA), Department of Labor Hearing in Washington, DC on EBSA’s proposed “fiduciary” rule.

We feel strongly that our suggested revisions to EBSA’s proposed rule would help to ensure appraiser competence, independence, and accountability

On March 2, 2011 the American Society of Appraisers testified at an Employee Benefits Service Administration (EBSA), Department of Labor Hearing in Washington, DC on EBSA’s proposed “fiduciary” rule. Donna Walker, ASA, testified on behalf of the American Society of Appraisers (ASA).

EBSA’s proposed rule would broaden ERISA’s definition of the term “fiduciary” to include individuals who provide ESOP-related appraisal services. ASA strongly opposes the proposed rule, deeming it both inappropriate and a counter-productive response to EBSA’s concerns. The rule, as proposed, would increase the cost of ESOP valuations, drive highly qualified and experienced appraisers out of the ESOP valuation marketplace, and fail to improve appraiser competence.

ASA urges EBSA to adopt the appraisal reform model being successfully utilized by all other federal agencies with important valuation responsibilities. This model includes reliance on professionally credentialed appraisers who have demonstrated valuation competency; who are legally prohibited from self dealing; and who are fully accountable for the integrity of their work.

The appraisal reform model ASA proposes is the same basic appraisal reform model in effect at the Internal Revenue Service in connection with ensuring the independence and reliability of valuations for a variety of tax-related purposes, including the valuation of billions of dollars annually in noncash charitable contributions.

The strong mutuality of interest and responsibility between EBSA and the IRS extends to ensuring the integrity and reliability of ESOP valuations. ASA believes that EBSA’s adoption of valuation requirements similar to those utilized by the IRS for all ESOP valuations is both logical and highly desirable.

ASA’s Director of Government Relations, John D. Russell, JD states, “We feel strongly that our suggested revisions to EBSA’s proposed rule would help to ensure appraiser competence, independence, and accountability in a manner which mirrors what other federal agencies have successfully implemented.”

About the American Society of Appraisers
The American Society of Appraisers is an international organization of appraisal professionals and others dedicated to the education, development and growth of the appraisal profession. More than 2,000 of its 5,000 members are business valuation appraisers. ASA is the oldest and only major organization representing ALL disciplines of appraisal specialists, originating in 1936 and incorporating in 1952. ASA’s headquarters is in the metropolitan Washington, DC area. To find an accredited appraiser near you, visit http://www.appraisers.org or call (800) 272-8258.

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Christy Jones
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