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Form 5500 Series filing requirements 2019

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ERISA & IRC reporting requirements

Plan administrators operating group benefits plans must file Form 5500 Series returns by July 31st, 2019 in order to satisfy both ERISA and IRC reporting requirements. In this article, we answer common Form 5500 Series questions and define actionable steps that employers can take to ensure compliance.

What is Form 5500 Series?

Form 5500 Series is a series of reporting documents that employers use to disclose the operational and financial components of an employee benefits plan to the government. Most commonly, Form 5500 Series can be divided into two forms: Form 5500 and 5500-SF. Form 5500 is the longer version of Form 5500-SF. Some employers, typically smaller employers, may file Form 5500-SF instead of the full Form 5500.

What's the purpose of Form 5500 Series?

Form 5500 Series is used by multiple federal agencies and therefore has multiple objectives including:

  • To disclose plan operations and financing details to plan participants and beneficiaries.  
  • To ensure employee benefit plans are operated and managed properly.
  • To protect the rights of employee benefits plan participants & beneficiaries. 
  • To inform employee benefit, tax, and economic trends and policies.

Who needs to file Form 5500 Series? 

Employers offering and administering a welfare benefit plan or pension benefit plan covered by ERISA must generally file Form 5500 Series. Employers satisfying the following requirements typically have the option to file Form 5500-SF in place of Form 5500.

  • Must have fewer than 100 participants at the beginning of the plan year.
  • Must be exempt from the requirement that its books and records be audited by an independent qualified public accountant (IQPA).
  • Must have 100 percent of its assets invested in certain secure investments with a readily determinable fair value.
  • Must hold no employer securities.
  • Must not be a multi-employer plan.

In most cases, employers offering and administering a welfare benefit plan or pension benefit plan covered by ERISA that does not meet the above criteria should file the full Form 5500. See exceptions.

Steps employers should take when filing Form 5500 Series

Once you’ve established that you are covered by IRC and ERISA reporting requirements and must file Form 5500 Series, the next step is the actual filing process. Employers filing either Form 5500 or 5500-SF must file electronically using EFAST2 filing by taking the following steps:

  • Compile all necessary information using these instructions.
  • Navigate EFAST2 filing page (IFILE) on the DOL’s website.

    If you have filed for your company in the past, you should have an existing account and can login here. If you have never completed Form 5500 Series reporting, you can register here.

  • Follow the prompts provided within your IFILE portal.

 

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