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General Instructions

Purpose of Form

Form 5500-EZ is used by one-participant plans and foreign plans that are not subject to the requirements of section 104(a) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and that do not file Form 5500-SF electronically to satisfy certain annual reporting and filing obligations imposed by the Code.


A one-participant plan or a foreign plan (as defined under Who Must File Form 5500-EZ) cannot file an annual return on Form 5500, Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan, regardless of whether the plan was previously required to file an annual return on Form 5500. Therefore, every one-participant plan required to file an annual return must file paper Form 5500-EZ with the IRS or electronically file Form 5500-SF using the EFAST2 Filing System in place of filing Form 5500-EZ.

Who Must File Form 5500-EZ

You must file Form 5500-EZ for a retirement plan if the plan is a one-participant plan or a foreign plan that is required to file an annual return and you do not file the annual return electronically on Form 5500-SF.

A one-participant plan means a retirement plan (that is, a defined benefit pension plan or a defined contribution profit-sharing or money purchase pension plan), other than an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), which:

  1. Covers only you (or you and your spouse) and you (or you and your spouse) own the entire business (which may be incorporated or unincorporated); or

  2. Covers only one or more partners (or partners and their spouses) in a business partnership; and

  3. Does not provide benefits for anyone except you (or you and your spouse) or one or more partners (or partners and their spouses).

A one-participant plan must file an annual return unless the plan meets the conditions for not filing under Who Does Not Have To File Form 5500-EZ below.

A foreign plan means a pension plan that is maintained outside the United States primarily for nonresident aliens.

A foreign plan is required to file an annual return if the employer who maintains the plan is:

  • A domestic employer, or

  • A foreign employer with income derived from sources within the United States (including foreign subsidiaries of domestic employers) if contributions to the plan are deducted on its U.S. income tax return.

Do not file an annual return for a plan that is a qualified foreign plan within the meaning of section 404A(e) that does not qualify for the treatment provided in section 402(d).


If you are not eligible to file the Form 5500-EZ for a plan that is subject to the reporting requirements in section 104 of ERISA, you must electronically file Form 5500 or, if eligible, Form 5500-SF.

Who Does Not Have To File Form 5500-EZ

You do not have to file Form 5500-EZ for the 2016 plan year for a one-participant plan if the total of the plan's assets and the assets of all other one-participant plans maintained by the employer at the end of the 2016 plan year does not exceed $250,000, unless 2016 is the final plan year of the plan. For more information on final plan years, see Final Return later.


If a plan meets all the requirements for filing Form 5500-EZ and its total assets (either alone or in combination with one or more one-participant plans maintained by the employer) exceed $250,000 at the end of the 2016 plan year, Form 5500-EZ must be filed for each of the employer's one-participant plans including those with less than $250,000 in assets for the 2016 plan year.


You should use the total plan assets as listed as of the end of the plan year on line 7a(2) of this form to determine whether the plan(s) assets exceed $250,000. If an employer maintains one or more one-participant plans, the total assets of all one-participant plans combined must be counted towards the amount of $250,000.

How To File

Paper forms for filing.   The 2016 Form 5500-EZ must be filed on paper. File the official IRS printed Form 5500-EZ or the downloadable form found on the IRS website; or use approved software, if available.

  You can complete the online, fillable 2016 Form 5500-EZ found on the IRS website and download it to your computer to print and sign before mailing to the address specified in these instructions. See Where To File.

  You can obtain the official IRS printed 2016 Form 5500-EZ from the IRS to complete by hand with pen or typewriter using blue or black ink. Entries should not exceed the lines provided on the form. Abbreviate if necessary. Paper forms are available from the IRS as discussed earlier in How To Get Forms and Publications.

Mandatory electronic filing.   A filer must file the Form 5500-SF electronically (see EFAST2 Filing System) instead of filing a paper Form 5500-EZ if the filer is required to file at least 250 returns of any type with the IRS, including information returns (for example, Forms W-2 and Forms 1099), income tax returns, employment tax returns, and excise tax returns, during the calendar year that includes the first day of the applicable plan year. If a filer is required to file a Form 5500-SF electronically but does not, the filer is considered to have not filed the form even if a paper Form 5500-EZ is submitted. See Treasury Regulations section 301.6058-2 for more information on mandatory electronic filing of employee retirement benefit plan returns. The IRS may waive the requirements to file Form 5500-SF electronically in cases of undue economic hardship. For information on filing a request for a hardship waiver, see Rev. Proc. 2015-47, 2015-39 I.R.B. 419, available at

EFAST2 Filing System

One-participant plans and foreign plans may satisfy their filing obligation under the Code by filing Form 5500-SF electronically under EFAST2 in place of Form 5500-EZ (on paper).

One-participant plans and foreign plans need complete only the following questions on the Form 5500-SF.

  • Part I, lines A, B, and C;

  • Part II, lines 1a–5b, 5d(1), 5d(2), and 5(e);

  • Part III, lines 7a–c, and 8a;

  • Part IV, line 9a;

  • Part V, line 10g; and

  • Part VI, lines 11–12e.

Under EFAST2, you must electronically file the 2016 Forms 5500 and 5500-SF using EFAST2's web-based filing system or you may file through an EFAST2-approved vendor. The 2016 Form 5500-EZ will be filed on paper and cannot be filed with this electronic system. For more information, see the EFAST2 website at For telephone assistance, call the EFAST2 Help Line at 1-866-GO-EFAST (1-866-463-3278). The EFAST2 Help Line is available Monday through Friday.

Note (1).

A filer must file Form 5500-SF electronically instead of filing Form 5500-EZ if the filer is required to file at least 250 returns of any type with the IRS during the calendar year. See How To File for more information.

Note (2).

If a filer is not subject to the IRS mandatory electronic filing requirement under Treasury Regulations section 301.6058-2, a Form 5500-SF may also be filed for a one-participant plan or a foreign plan instead of filing Form 5500-EZ regardless of whether or not the plan covered more than 100 participants at the beginning of the plan year or satisfies other conditions listed in the Instructions for Form 5500-SF.

Note (3).

Information filed on Form 5500-EZ and Form 5500-SF is required to be made available to the public. However, the information for a one-participant plan or a foreign plan whether electronically filed with EFAST2 using a Form 5500-SF or filed on paper using a Form 5500-EZ will not be published on the Internet.

What To File

Plans required to file an annual return for one-participant (owners and their spouses) retirement plans or foreign plans may file Form 5500-EZ in accordance with its instructions. Filers of Form 5500-EZ are not required to file schedules or attachments related to Form 5500 with the 2016 Form 5500-EZ. However, you must collect and retain for your records completed Schedule MB (Form 5500), Multiemployer Defined Benefit Plan and Certain Money Purchase Plan Actuarial Information, if applicable, and completed and signed Schedule SB (Form 5500), Single-Employer Defined Benefit Plan Actuarial Information, if applicable. Even though you do not have to file the Schedule MB (Form 5500) or Schedule SB (Form 5500) with the 2016 Form 5500-EZ, you are still required to both perform an annual valuation and maintain the funding records associated with plan funding in the same manner as a plan for which the applicable schedule must be filed.

Eligible combined plans.   The Pension Protection Act of 2006 established rules for a new type of pension plan, an “eligible combined plan,” effective for plan years beginning after December 31, 2009. An eligible combined plan consists of a defined benefit plan and a defined contribution plan that includes a qualified cash or deferred arrangement under section 401(k). The assets of the two plans are held in a single trust, but clearly identified and allocated between plans. The eligible combined plan design is available only to employers that:

  • Employed an average of at least 2, but no more than 500, employees on business days during the calendar year prior to the establishment of the eligible combined plan; and

  • Employ at least 2 employees on the first day of the plan year that the plan is established.

  Because an eligible combined plan includes both a defined benefit plan and a defined contribution plan, the Form 5500-EZ filed for the plan must include all the information that would be required for either a defined benefit plan or a defined contribution plan.


The 2016 Schedule MB (Form 5500) and the 2016 Schedule SB (Form 5500) are available only electronically from the Department of Labor website at You can complete the schedules online and print them out for your records. If you are a Form 5500-EZ filer, do not attempt to electronically file the Schedule MB or Schedule SB related to your 2016 Form 5500-EZ filing.

When To File

File the 2016 return for plan years that started in 2016. Form 5500-EZ must be filed by the last day of the 7th calendar month after the end of the plan year that began in 2016 (not to exceed 12 months in length).


If the filing due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the return may be filed on the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.

Where To File

File the Form 5500-EZ at the following address:

Department of the Treasury 
Internal Revenue Service 
Ogden, UT 84201-0020

Private delivery services (PDSs).   You can use certain private delivery services designated by the IRS to meet the “timely mailing as timely filing/paying” rule for tax returns and payments. The private delivery services include only the following.

  • DHL Express: DHL Express 9:00, DHL Express 10:30, DHL Express 12:00, DHL Express Worldwide, DHL Express Envelope, DHL Import Express 10:30, DHL Import Express 12:00, and DHL Import Express Worldwide.

  • Federal Express (FedEx): FedEx First Overnight, FedEx Priority Overnight, FedEx Standard Overnight, FedEx 2 Day, FedEx International Next Flight Out, FedEx International Priority, FedEx International First, and FedEx International Economy.

  • United Parcel Service (UPS): UPS Next Day Air Early AM, UPS Next Day Air, UPS Next Day Air Saver, UPS 2nd Day Air, UPS 2nd Day Air A.M., UPS Worldwide Express Plus, and UPS Worldwide Express.

  The private delivery service can tell you how to get written proof of the mailing date.

  Private delivery services should use the following address:

Internal Revenue Service  
1973 Rulon White Blvd. 
Ogden, UT 84201

Who Must Sign

The plan administrator or employer (owner) must sign and date paper Form 5500-EZ for the 2016 filing.

Preparer Information

For the 2016 plan year, the IRS has decided not to require plan sponsors to enter the preparer’s name (including firm name, if applicable), address, and telephone number at the bottom of the second page of Form 5500-EZ. Plan sponsors should skip these questions when completing the form.


The Internal Revenue Code imposes a penalty of $25 a day (up to $15,000) for not filing returns in connection with pension, profit-sharing, etc., plans by the required due date.

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