What is a Form 5500?
The Form 5500, Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan, is the form used to file an employee benefit plan’s annual information return with the Department of Labor (“DOL”).
How often does the Form 5500 have to be filed?
If a plan is subject to ERISA, this form must be filed every year. You can find a FreeERISA FAQ here.
Who has to file?
The sponsor of the plan or arrangement subject to ERISA must file the Form 5500. Plans subject to ERISA can include, but are not limited to, the following:
Profit sharing plans, 401(k) plans, money purchase plans, stock bonus plans
Certain annuity arrangements
Individual retirement arrangements established by employers
Church pension plans that elect to be covered by ERISA
Certain welfare benefit plans that provide benefits including medical, dental, and life insurance, and severance pay
How is it filed?
The Form 5500 must be filed electronically using the EFAST2 system at www.efast.dol.gov.
When is it due?
The 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. For calendar year plans, this means July 31 (assuming it falls on a business day). However, a Form 5558 can be filed for an automatic 2½ month extension (for a calendar year plan, to October 15th). The Form 5558 must be filed with the IRS on or before the due date of the Form 5500. If a plan sponsor files for an extension, it must be attached to the Form 5500 when the Form 5500 is filed.
What is in the Form 5500?
The Form 5500 consists of the main form, as well as different schedules and attachments. Generally, the Form 5500 must show the characteristics of the plan, as well as the operations.
The main part of the Form 5500 is two pages long and requests certain information about the plan, including its name, the date it first became effective, plan sponsor information, information about the plan administrator, a breakout of the number of participants in the plan at the end of the plan year, how the plan is funded or benefits are provided, the schedules that are attached to the Form, and specific characteristics of the plan (for example, if it provides matching contributions).
The specific schedules that are required to be filed with the Form 5500 will depend on what type of filer the plan is. These are generally broken into two categories: pension benefits and welfare benefits, and further subdivided into large plan or small plan.
Financial Information. Each plan will be required to file a schedule that outlines financial information for the plan, including assets and liabilities (Schedule H or I).
Insurance Information. Regardless of the type of plan, if benefits are provided using insurance, a Schedule A will need to be provided for each insurance contract used.
Service Provider Information. For large plans, a Schedule C must be provided which outlines the service providers that the plan utilized and to whom more than $5,000 in fees were paid or for an accountant or enrolled actuary whose services were terminated.
Retirement Plan Information. The Schedule R must be completed for pension benefit plans and it contains information specific to retirement benefits provided under the plan, including distributions, funding and certain nondiscrimination requirements.
Financial Transactions. Certain financial transactions must be reported on Schedule G, including loans, fixed income obligations and leases in default or uncollectible and nonexempt transactions.
Defined Benefit Plan Information. A separate Schedule may be required to detail actuarial information for certain defined benefit plans.
Accountant’s Report. Each large plan must also attach an independent auditor’s report to the Form 5500.
What about the IRS or the PBGC?
This form was created by the DOL, IRS and PBGC together. The Form 5500 filed with the DOL will satisfy the IRS’ requirement to file an annual information return. Plans that are covered by the PBGC, generally defined benefit (traditional pension type) plans, may have additional filing requirements with the PBGC.
Where can I go for more information?
Access the form 5500 data you need on FreeERISA