What Is Form 5500?

Form 5500 was developed by the Department of Labor (DOL), Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), and the Internal Revenue Service. It is part of a series of forms developed by these three government agencies to collect employee information about health plans, benefit plans, welfare plans, and pension plans. Form 5500 is reported annually and provides information about the financial conditions, operations, and investments of the plans.

Form 5500 is used for plans that have 100 or more participants. Form 5500-SF is used when there are fewer than 100 participants in the plan. For nonresident aliens, Form 5500-EZ is used.

The employer is the plan administrator. A specific entity or person may be named within the document to serve as the administrator.

Filing these forms is the responsibility of the plan administrator, who must also keep a copy of Form 5500 and all schedules and attachments. Each form is required to have ink signatures on file for each plan's record keeping. The responsibility of filling out the form may be designated to internal personnel or to an outside professional agency.

For Keogh plans, a Form 5500 must be filed each year. Plans involved include the following:

  • Profit sharing plans
  • 401(K) plans
  • Corporate pension plans
  • Defined benefit plans
  • 403(b) plans

All forms pertaining to the Form 5500 Series are available at the U.S. Department of Labor website. Information is available from 1995 to the present.

For questions about the Form 5500, the following agencies can be contacted:

  • Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)
  • Department of Labor (DOL)
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

What Are the Steps for Completing Form 5500?

When filling out Form 5500, all required information must be included. If not, a required audit can result in Form 5500 being treated as though it were never filed.

  • Schedule A – Requires information about each insurance contract in use.
  • Schedule B – For defined benefit plans, a signed actuarial report by a registered agent must be attached.
  • Schedule C – All service providers must be listed on the form.
  • Schedule G – Requires a list of fixed income obligations, loans, uncollectible/non-exempt transactions, or leases in default.
  • Schedule H or I – Requires a schedule of assets and liabilities.
  • Schedule R – Use this form for pension benefit plans.
  • Actuarial – Actuarial details along with an accountant report are necessary for Form 5500.

When Must Form 5500 Be Filed?

Form 5500 is filed once per year. It must be filed before July 31. If July 31 is not a business day, the filing date will fall on the next business day.

For an ERISA plan, if the plan is not a calendar year plan, the form must be filed no later than the last day of the month that follows the seventh month after the end of the plan year.

If an extension is needed, it can be requested by submitting Form 5558.

In the event Form 5558 is submitted before the deadline, a 2.5-month extension will be granted automatically. Should the filing deadline fall on a federal holiday, a Saturday, or a Sunday, the due date rolls over to the following business day.

What Is a One-Participant Plan?

This plan is for a business owner who has no employees. The plan can be used to cover not only the business owner, but also the owner's spouse. If the business is a partnership, the partners and their respective spouses are covered.

With a one-participant plan, an owner may file Form 5500-EZ if he or she is a non-resident alien. The owner may also choose to file Form 5500-SF, which is used when there are fewer than 100 participants in the plan. For 5500-EZ forms, the IRS requires the application in paper form. The form is available to print online, or a blank copy can be obtained from the IRS.

A one-participant plan may not always be required to file a 5500 form. This is generally true if the owner's assets are less than $250,000.

What Is the ERISA Form 5500?

The ERISA Form 5500 is used to access information about the condition of the investments, financial status, and operations concerning the benefit plans for employees. These plans may include the following:

  • Life insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Medical plans
  • Stock Bonus Plans
  • Severance pay plans
  • 401 (k)
  • Profit sharing
  • Money purchase
  • Retirement arrangements
  • Annuity arrangements
  • Pension Plans

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