FORM 5500 Reporting Self-Service Guide
What is a Form 5500?
A Form 5500 is an annual informational tax filing required of certain pension and welfare benefit plans. It reports plan benefits, participation, funding sources, and more.
Who is responsible for filing?
While nearly all retirement plans are subject to 5500 requirements, many health and welfare benefit plans are exempt. According to IRS and DOL Guidelines, any company (or controlled group) providing benefits under an employee benefit plan (typically including benefits such as health, dental, vision, life, disability, etc.), with 100 or more employees participating in that plan, will generally be required to file a Form 5500 with Schedule information each plan year. Plans that are considered "funded" - those paying benefits from a trust instead of general assets or through an insurance plan - are required to file regardless of size. Governmental or church plans are exempt because such entities are not subject to ERISA.
When should you file?
Form 5500s are due 7 months after the end of the plan year (e.g. a 5500 for a calendar-year 2015 plan will be due July 31, 2016. Extensions of 2.5 months can be obtained if requested in writing before the original deadline.
Where are the Forms filed?
All 5500s must be filed electronically through the DOL's online EFAST2 website. BPC uses approved third-party software for filing convenience.
The Form 5500 is a source of information to the DOL and IRS. The DOL may use the information provided as it sees fit. Likely uses include aggregate economic and industry analysis, uncovering compliance problems, and possibly identifying audit targets. Failure to file, or file timely, can result in significant penalties. Depending on the circumstances the DOL has the authority to assess penalties of $50 per day that a filing is late, $300 per day, or for severe offenses even $2,097 per day. Plans that voluntarily acknowledge they are filing late can opt into much lower penalties through the Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program.