Council Urges Extension of Form 5500 Filing Deadline
On July 13, the Council sent a letter to senior officials at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requesting an extension of the deadline for filing the annual Form 5500 and Form 5500-SF reports for the 2009 plan year until the later of:
- December 31, 2010, or
- Nine and a half months after the end of the plan year.
As the letter states, the 2009 Form 5500 reflects the most substantial revisions to the annual reporting requirements affecting employee benefit plans in recent memory. The new Schedule C places the onus on employers to gather information about a wide range of direct and indirect plan services arrangements and has generated a host of information-gathering challenges. Further, many employers will be filing a brand new form (the Form 5500-SF) and others, particularly employers that maintain Section 403(b) plans, will effectively be filing the Form 5500 for the very first time. There has also been some confusion over the elimination of the Form SSA as a schedule to the Form 5500 (See the July 12 Benefits Byte), and its transition to a filing requirement with the Service through the new Form 8955-SSA (which has not yet been released).
In addition, On top of the new substantive questions and the revised forms, the 2009 Form 5500 (other than the Form 5500-EZ) must for the first time be filed electronically using either EFAST2’s web-based filing system or an EFAST2-approved vendor (See the January 11 Benefits Byte), which poses other new compliance challenges.
“We are concerned that many employers, particularly small employers, will file belatedly; others will meet the filing deadline but will file a defective Form 5500. Even for large employers, we can foresee substantial challenges arising, largely associated with the Schedule C,” the letter reads. Without an extension, calendar year plan Form 5500s would be due August 2 (since July 31 is a Saturday).
In a related matter, on July 14 the DOL Employee Benefit Security Administration issued an information letter clarifying whether, in the context of a collectively bargained multiemployer plan, plan expenses paid by a contributing employer and not reimbursed by the plan are required to be reported on Schedule C of the Form 5500. “While an employer that participates in or contributes to a multiemployer plan would not be a ‘plan sponsor’ within the meaning of Section 3(16)(B) [of ERISA], it nevertheless is the view of [DOL] that, for purposes of the Schedule C reporting requirements, payments by such employers, directly or through an employer association, or by participating employee organizations, should be treated the same as payments by a plan sponsor. Thus, payments to plan service providers that are not reimbursed by the plans and that are made by contributing employers, directly or through an employer association, or by an employee organization that serves as the collective bargaining representative of employees covered by the plan, are not required to be included in the information reported on the Schedule C.” [emphasis added]
For more information, contact Jan Jacobson, senior counsel, retirement policy, at (202) 289-6700.