The Form 5500 and Form 5500-EZ are annual reports that must be filed for every employee benefit plan that covers 100 or more participants. For calendar year plans, these forms must be filed by July 31, 2015.

Updates to forms for 2014 plan year

  • Form M-1 compliance information appears as three new questions on the 2014 Form 5500; this eliminates the 2013 requirement that single employer plans attach a “Form M-1 Compliance Information” statement to their submitted 5500s.
  • A participant count question is added to the 5500 Line 6a(1), which requests the number of “active participants at the beginning of the plan year.” Note the active participant count at the end of the plan year will be labeled at Line 6a(2).
  • Certain multiple-employer plans must report total contributions for the plan year.
  • Schedule SB (single-employer defined benefit plan actuarial information)
    • Line 3 is modified to report the funding target separately for each type of participant (active, retired and terminated vested).
    • Line 11b is split into two parts: 1) providing the calculation based on the prior year's effective interest rate and 2) providing the calculation based on the prior year's actual return.
    • Line 15 instructions are expanded to address situations in which AFTAP was not certified for the plan year.
  • Schedule MB. Multiemployer defined benefit plan and certain money purchase plan actuarial information.
    • Line 4f has been added to require plans in critical status to provide information about the plan year in which a plan is projected to emerge from critical status or the plan year in which insolvency is expected.

Penalties for Noncompliance

  • IRS penalties for late filing are $25 per day up to a maximum of $15,000.
  • DOL penalties can run up to $1,100 per day (no maximum). For willful violations, individuals face up to a $100,000 fine and/or imprisonment up to 10 years.  

Correction program available

If your plan is late in filing a 5500 form or your plan never filed a 5500 form because you were not aware that your plan had to do so, the DOL has a correction program to file late forms with reduced penalties.

Penalties under the DOL's delinquent filer voluntary compliance program:

  • Small plans (fewer than 100 participants):
    • Penalty is $10 per day not to exceed $750.
    • If there are multiple late Form 5500s for the same plan, the maximum penalty is $750 for each plan year, not to exceed $1,500 per plan.
  • Large plans (100 or more participants):
    • Penalty is $10 per day not to exceed $2,000.
    • If there are multiple late Form 5500s for the same plan, the maximum penalty is $2,000 for each plan year, not to exceed $4,000 per plan.

Downs, a partner at FordHarrison, is the head of the employee benefits group. Winslow, an associate at FordHarrison, focuses on representing employers in employee benefits matters and associated tax implications.

The information in this legal alert is for educational purposes only and should not be taken as specific legal advice.

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