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Form 5500 Deadline Looming: Do You Know Which Version to File?

June 22, 2015

Because there are multiple versions of Form 5500, it’s important not just to meet the deadline, but also to file the correct form.

If a retirement plan is subject to ERISA, generally it must annually file IRS Form 5500 to provide certain information about the plan’s investments and financial condition. For calendar-year plans, the deadline is July 31 (with an extension of the due date to October 15 available).

Because there are multiple versions of Form 5500, it’s important not just to meet the deadline, but also to file the correct form.

Size Up Your Plan

Which version of Form 5500 you must file typically depends on your plan’s size:

  • Plans with 100 or more participants: Form 5500, “Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan”
  • Plans with 99 or fewer participants: Form 5500-SF, “Short Form Annual Return/Report of Small Employee Benefit Plan”
  • One-participant plans: Form 5500-EZ, “Annual Return of One-Participant (Owners and Their Spouses) Retirement Plan” (Please note: A “one-participant” plan may actually have more than one participant).

Large vs. small plan status generally is determined by your participant count on the first day of the plan year. However, if your participant count exceeds 99 but not 120 this year and you filed as a small plan last year, you can still file as a small plan this year. In fact, under this scenario, you can continue to file as a small plan until your participant count exceeds 120 participants on the first day of a plan’s year at some point in the future.

Important to note: A CPA’s audit report must be included with a large plan filing.

Form 5500 or 5500-SF must be filed electronically through EFAST2. If you need to file for an extension, mail Form 5558, “Application for Extension of Time to File Certain Employee Plan Returns,” to the Department of the Treasury, IRS.

Some types of plans are exempt from an annual IRS Form 5500 filing, so check the exceptions.

Beware of the Rules

As you can see, the filing rules are complex. If you have questions about what form you need to file — or whether you need to file at all — please contact us.

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