Employee Benefit Plans: The 411

Valuable Information on 401ks, Pensions, ESOPs, Form 5500 Preparation + More

What You Need to Know When Filing Form 5500

What is Form 5500?
Form 5500 is the annual tax return for your retirement plan that must be filed with the Employee Benefit Security Administration (EBSA), a division of the Department of Labor (DOL). It is required by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to ensure employee benefit plans are operated and managed correctly. ERISA requires the plan administrator of certain ERISA plans to file an “annual report” with the DOL containing specified plan information.

Who is required to file Form 5500?
Every pension and group welfare benefit plan that is subject to ERISA is required to file a Form 5500.

When is Form 5500 due?
The plan must file the Form 5500 and any accompanying schedules by the last day of the seventh month following the close of the plan year. This means that the deadline is July 31st if your plan operates on a calendar year. You can get a one-time extension for two and a half months by filing Form 5558 with the IRS, but you must file this extension before your Form 5500 due date. This means that if your plan operates on a calendar year and you file an extension on Form 5558, then the extended deadline is October 15th.

How do I file Form 5500?
Beginning Jan. 1, 2010, all plans must file Form 5500s electronically for all plan years through EFAST2 (ERISA Filing Acceptance System, second generation). For more information on how to file Form 5500 see How to File- Electronic Filing Requirement instructions and the EFAST2 website at www.efast.dol.gov.

By Ryan Wojdacz, CPA