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For calendar-year benefit plans, Form 5500 is due July 31
Advance copies of
2016 Form 5500 and
2016 Instructions for Form 5500, for benefit plan reporting due for calendar-year plans on July 31, 2017, were issued on Nov. 1 by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC).
For smaller filers, advance short form (SF) copies of
2016 Form 5500–SF and
2016 Instructions for Form 5500–SF also were released, along with
supplemental materials including required Form 5500 schedules and attachments, and compliance questions and answers.
The advance copies of the 2016 Form 5500 are for informational purposes only and cannot be used to file a 2016 Form 5500 annual return/report,
which are due the last day of the seventh month after the plan year ends, with an optional two-and-a-half-month extension. For plans that follow a calendar year, Form 5500 for the prior year is due on July 31, with an extension available to Oct. 15. Filers should
monitor the EFAST website for the availability of the official electronic versions of Form 5500 and Form 5500-SF in the new year.
Form 5500, along with required schedules and attachments, is used to report information concerning employee benefit plans, including retirement and savings plans (such as defined benefit pension plans, defined contribution 401(k)-type plans, profit-sharing and stock bonus plans) and health and welfare plans (such as medical, dental, life insurance and disability benefit plans).
[SHRM members-only HR Q&As:
What is Form 5500, and where are instructions for completing it?]
The "Changes to Note" section of the 2016 instructions highlights revisions to the Form 5500 and Form 5500-SF and their applicable schedules and instructions. These include:
Higher administrative penalties. The instructions have been updated to reflect an increase in the maximum civil penalty amount assessable under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) section 502(c)(2).
DOL regulations published in July increased the maximum penalty to $2,063 a day for a plan administrator who fails or refuses to file a complete or accurate Form 5500 report.
The increased penalty under section 502(c)(2) is applicable for civil penalties assessed after Aug. 1, 2016, whose associated violation(s) occurred after Nov. 2, 2015—the date of enactment of the 2015 Inflation Adjustment Act.
"While the increased penalty amounts, like their predecessors, are frighteningly large to the plan sponsor that misses a filing deadline, substantially reduced late filing penalties are available through the DOL's
Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program," according to a compliance alert about the revised forms by the Lockton Benefit Group.
IRS compliance questions. Although they appear on the 2016 Form 5500, Form 5500-SF, Schedules H, I and R, the IRS has decided that:
Expanding Reporting Ahead
Early this year, the federal agencies that govern employee benefit plans
proposed substantial revisions to Form 5500 reporting requirements. Millions of employers with currently exempt plans may be compelled to file annual reports under the new rules, intended to increase transparency, improve data mining and modernize reporting requirements, according to
proposed Form 5500 revisions published last July.
The agencies are targeting the 2019 plan year for implementation of the revised filing requirements, meaning they would take effect for reporting due in July 2020.
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