ERISA Form 5500

Form 5500


What is Form 5500?

Form 5500, is the most important form in your retirement plan package. Form 5500 is additional reporting that many employers or plan sponsors don’t realize they’re required to file with the government. It sheds light on the operations of a retirement plan, so it’s critical for sponsors to prepare everything in a timely and thorough manner.

Who Needs to File a Form 5500?

Businesses are required to file Form 5500 with the United States Department of Labor (DOL) when they sponsor a pension or retirement fund. The form reports on the financial health of various employers that offer pension plans to their employees. ERISA requires employers with 100 or more participants to report certain information to the DOL annually on 5500.

How Many 5500 Forms are There?

The 5500 Series is part of ERISA’s overall reporting and disclosure framework, which is intended to assure that employee benefit plans are operated and managed in accordance with certain prescribed standards and that participants and beneficiaries, as well as regulators, are provided or have access to sufficient information to protect the rights and benefits of participants and beneficiaries under employee benefit plans.  

  • Form 5500 –  is part of ERISA’s overall reporting and disclosure framework, which is intended to assure that employee retirement plans are operated in the interests of participants and beneficiaries, in accordance with the law, and with appropriate regard for the impact on federal income tax receipts.
  • 5500-SF – Short Form Annual Return/Report of Small Employee Benefit Plan, is a simplified annual reporting form for small retirement plans that have fewer than 100 participants and less than 100 account balances at the end of the plan year.
  • Form 5500-EZ – is a simplified version. If you have less than 100 participants who are covered by an automatic enrollment retirement plan or an automatic contribution arrangement established under Internal Revenue Code section 401(k), then you may file Form 5500-EZ.

What Happens if I Don’t File a Form 5500 by the Deadline?

Late filers of Form 5500 can be penalized twice — both by the IRS and the DOL. The IRS penalties for a late filing without notice or a qualified extension are $250 per day, up to a maximum of $150,000.

ERISA, DOL, and IRS regulations make compliance complicated for any business. We ensure you meet all requirements and deadlines while saving you stress, time, and money.

Form 5500 Reporting Services

We will file on your behalf and provide you with a comprehensive report listing all the required information needed. We will file Form 5500 for you to make sure they remain compliant with the IRS regulations. Let us help you compile all the necessary forms so you can complete this process as efficiently as possible.⁣ ⁣

We Do the Work for You

We help collect all needed information, making the reporting process easier for you.

EFAST2 Submission

We submit the reports electronically through the IRS EFAST2 System.

Compliance Ready

Our analysts ensure you meet all compliance targets and all reporting requirements are met.

SAR Options Available

Optional SAR completion.

Assigned ACA Analyst

You have an assigned analyst giving you a direct point of contact to ask any questions along the way.

The HR Service Team realizes the challenges involved with preparing and filing 5500 reports. Don’t take the risk of filling out forms incorrectly. Allow the team of qualified professionals to make the process streamlined and simple.

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The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), along with the IRS and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC), released advance copies of the 2021 Form 5500 and Related Instructions. For smaller filers, advance copies of the 2021 Form 5500-SF (short form) and Related Instructions also were made available, along with Supplemental Materials that include schedules and Attachments.

Interested in Learning More about our 5500 Services? call for a free quote. 

Form 5500 FAQ

The annual report must be filed by the last day of the seventh month after the end of the plan year. The DOL and the IRS may impose significant penalties for plans failing to meet the filing deadline and for incomplete or inaccurate filings. An extension of time to file the annual report may be available--refer to the form instructions for information and for details about extended filing deadlines.

  • The DOL may assess a civil penalty against a plan administrator of up to $2,400 per day starting from the date of the administrator's failure or refusal to file Form 5500. The penalty is also for incomplete or otherwise deficient Form 5500s.  The penalty may be reduced under the DOL delinquent and late-filer programs, subject to annual increases for inflation. A willful failure to distribute a SAR or failure to complete 5500 reporting is subject to criminal penalties, punishable by a fine of not more than $100,000 or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both. Fines can be increased up to $500,000 if assessed against an entity (and not the responsible individual). A participant requesting a SAR, who does not receive the SAR within 30 days of that request, can be awarded up to $2400/day (until the SAR is provided).
  • Schedule C does not apply to unfunded welfare plans, which are the vast majority of welfare plans.
  • EFAST2 will accept only 2019 and 2020 - Effective January 1, 2021, the EFAST2 System will only accept 2019 and 2020 forms. Therefore, if an earlier plan year filing needs to be submitted (for an amended filing or a first-time late filing), the before 2019 form needs to be prepared on the most current available form, which right now is a 2020 Form 5500. Again, no paper forms are accepted. Information copies of the forms, schedules, and instructions are available on the EBSA website.
  • To obtain a two-and-one-half-month extension, eligible filers may file Form 5558 with the IRS before the due date of their 5500. 
  • Plans eligible to file 5500-EZ are automatically granted an extension for filing 5500-EZ until the extended due date of the employer’s federal income tax return, provided certain conditions are met. Please refer to the IRS Instructions for Form 5500-EZ (PDF) for details.
  • Generally, the DFVCP Penalty is capped at $1,500 for most small plans, $4,000 for large plans, and $750 for small 501(c)(3) plans. The US Department of Labor has a DFVCP Penalty Calculator available to determine your penalty.

Generally, no. If you only have a cafeteria plan, you are not required to file Form 5500 or Schedule F. However, if you have a welfare benefit plan, you may be required under Department of Labor regulations to file a return for that plan.

In general, MEWAs are arrangements that offer health and other benefits to the employees of two or more different employers.
What is the M-1 Tax Form?
The M-1 tax form is an annual report that must be filed by Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements (MEWAs). This tax form is used primarily to report the custodial and financial information of the MEWA and information showing compliance with ERISA. 
When is the Annual M-1 Tax Form due?
  • The M-1 tax form is required to be filed by March 1st of every calendar year.
In addition to its annual filing, a MEWA must also file an M-1 form when any of the following registration events occur:
Note: A MEWA may be required to file an M-1 multiple times in a calendar year.
  • 30 days before beginning initial operation. The MEWA first begins operating with regard to the employees of two or more employers
  • 30 days after beginning operating in an additional state. The MEWA begins knowingly operating in any additional state after an initial operation has occurred.
  • 30 days after a merger. The MEWA merges with another MEWA
  • 30 days after a 50% Increase in Covered Employees. The number of employees receiving coverage for medical care under the MEWA is at least 50 percent greater than the number of such employees on the last day of the previous calendar year
  • 30 days after a material change. If any custodial or financial information changes during the plan year.  
A MEWA must also file a Tax Form 5500
Unless exempt from filing an M-1 (very rare) MEWA must also file a 5500 tax form every year regardless of plan size or the type of funding
When is the 5500 Tax Form Due?
  • The 5500 Tax form is due 7 months after the end of each plan year.
Are there any special requirements on the 5500 Tax Form?
  • The MEWA must be indicated in Part 1A of the 5500
  • The MEWA must indicate their M-1 status in Part 3-11(A-C) of the 5500.
  • The MEWA must include their M-1 Receipt Confirmation Code (obtained when they filed their last M-1 with the DOL).
Note: The M-1 Filing is not required to be included with the 5500. The Receipt Confirmation Code ties the 5500 to the M-1 already on file with the DOL.
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