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ERISA Form 5500 Reporting Requirements

Form 5500 is a series of forms jointly developed by three United States government agencies: the Department of Labor (DOL), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). The Form 5500 Series was created under the Internal Revenue Code and Titles I and IV of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to collect information about employee benefit plans, including health and pension plans. Read on to learn more about who needs to file Form 5500, the type of information to include, and the filing process.

Who Needs to File ERISA Form 5500?

Form 5500 must be completed by the sponsor of any plan subject to ERISA. Plans subject to ERISA may include:

  • Medical, dental, life insurance, or severance pay plans
  • Profit sharing, 401(k), money purchase, or stock bonus plans
  • Annuity arrangements
  • Retirement arrangements
  • Pension plans

The 5500 Series is made up of a few form sub-types. If the plan has fewer than 100 participants, for example, only Form 5500-SF must be completed. On the other hand, if the plan is maintained outside the U.S., primarily for the benefit of non-resident aliens, the 5500-EZ should be filed. All necessary schedules and attachments must be filed simultaneously with the main Form 5500. All forms can be found on the U.S. Department of Labor Form 5500 Series website, for years 1995 to the present.

What Information is Needed to Complete Form 5500?

ERISA Form 5500 was created so the government can assess the financial condition, investments, and operations of all employee benefits plans. Fields on the form require the following information:

  • Financial - a schedule of assets and liabilities (Schedule H or I)
  • Insurance - information about each insurance contract used (Schedule A)
  • Service provider - every service provider must be listed (Schedule C)
  • Retirement plan - pension benefit plans must complete a separate schedule (Schedule R)
  • Financial transactions - loans, fixed income obligations, leases in default, or uncollectible/nonexempt transactions (Schedule G)
  • Actuarial details
  • Accountant report

How is ERISA Form 5500 Filed?

Since January 1, 2010, all forms in the 5500 series must be filed electronically using the U.S. Department of Labor's EFAST 2 or IFILE systems. For information, visit the U.S. Department of Labor website.

When must Form 5500 be Filed?

For calendar year plans, which are plans that end on December 31, Form 5500 must be filed once per year by July 31. If July 31 is not a business day, the form must be filed on the next business day.

For non-calendar year plans, which are plans that do not end on December 31, Form 5500 must be filed no later than the last day of the month seven months after the plan ends. For example, if your plan ends on November 30, 2022, the deadline for submission of Form 5500 would be June 30, 2022.

Extensions can be requested by submission of a Form 5558. If Form 5558 is properly submitted by the deadline, an automatic 2.5-month extension will be granted.

Additional assistance with ERISA Form 5500 can be found in the U.S. Department of Labor's Troubleshooter's Guide to Filing the ERISA Annual Report (Form 5500 and Form 5500-SF) and outside service BenefitsPro.

Learn More About ERISA Form 5500 Reporting Requirements from a Lawyer

While the majority of ERISA-related actions go on behind the scenes, at least with respect to the employee, it's important to understand how it relates to your benefits. If you believe your retirement or other benefit plans have not been handled properly or may have violated laws and regulations, you might consider speaking with an ERISA attorney near you today.

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