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ERISA Form 5500 Reporting Requirements

Form 5500 is one form in a series 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 the 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

If the plan has fewer than 100 participants, only the short form, Form 5500-SF, must be completed. 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 system. For information, visit EFAST Software.

When must Form 5500 be Filed?

For most plans, Form 5500 must be filed once per year, before July 31 (if July 31 is not a business day, the next business day). However, if the ERISA plan is not a calendar year plan, Form 5500 must be filed no later than the last day of the calendar month following the seventh calendar month following the end of the plan year. Extensions can be requested by submission of a Form 5558. If the Form 5558 is properly submitted before 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 benefits 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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