Instructions for Form 5500-SF - Introductory Material

EFAST2 Processing System

Under the computerized ERISA Filing Acceptance System (EFAST2), you must electronically file your 2009 Form 5500-SF, Short Form Annual Return/Report of Small Employee Benefit Plan. You may file your 2009 Form 5500-SF online using EFAST2's web-based filing system or you may file through an EFAST2-approved vendor. You cannot file a paper Form 5500-SF by mail or other delivery service. For more information, see the instructions for How To File – Electronic Filing Requirement on page 5 and the EFAST2 website at

How To Get Assistance

If you need help completing this form, or have related questions, call the EFAST2 Help Line at 1-866-GO-EFAST (1-866-463-3278) (toll free) or access the EFAST2 or IRS websites. The EFAST2 Help Line is available Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, Eastern Time.

You can access the EFAST2 website 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at to:

  • File the Form 5500-SF or 5500, and any needed schedules or attachments.

  • Check on the status of a filing you submitted.

  • View filings posted by EFAST2.

  • Register for electronic credentials to sign or submit filings.

  • View forms and related instructions.

  • Get information regarding EFAST2, including approved software vendors.

  • See answers to frequently asked questions about the Form 5500-SF, the Form 5500 and its schedules, and EFAST2.

  • Access the main Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) and DOL websites for news, regulations, and publications.

You can access the IRS website 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at to:

  • View forms, instructions, and publications.

  • See answers to frequently asked tax questions.

  • Search publications online by topic or keyword.

  • Send comments or request help by e-mail.

  • Sign up to receive local and national tax news by e-mail.

You can order related forms and IRS publications by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676). You can order EBSA publications by calling 1-866-444-3272.

General Instructions

The Form 5500-SF, Short Form Annual Return/Report of Small Employee Benefit Plan, is a simplified annual reporting form for use by certain small pension and welfare benefit plans. To be eligible to use Form 5500-SF, the plan must:

  • Be a small plan (i.e., generally have fewer than 100 participants at the beginning of the plan year),

  • Meet the conditions for being exempt from the requirement that the plan's books and records be audited by an independent qualified public accountant (IQPA),

  • Have 100% of its assets invested in certain secure investments with a readily determinable fair value,

  • Hold no employer securities, and

  • Not be a multiemployer plan.

Plans required to file an annual return/report that are not eligible to file the Form 5500-SF, must file a Form 5500, Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan, with all required schedules and attachments (Form 5500), or Form 5500-EZ, Annual Return of One-Participant (Owners and Their Spouses) Retirement Plan.

To reduce the possibility of correspondence and penalties, we remind filers that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Department of Labor (DOL), and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) have consolidated their annual return/report forms to minimize the filing burden for employee benefit plans. Administrators and sponsors of employee benefit plans generally will satisfy their IRS and DOL annual reporting requirements for the plan under ERISA sections 104 and 4065 and Code sections 6058 and 6059 by filing either the Form 5500, Form 5500-SF, or Form 5500-EZ. Defined contribution and defined benefit pension plans may have to file additional information with the IRS including: the annual registration statement required to be filed under Code section 6057; Form 5330, Return of Excise Taxes Related to Employee Benefit Plans; and Form 5310-A, Notice of Plan Merger or Consolidation, Spinoff, or Transfer of Plan Assets or Liabilities; Notice of Qualified Separate Lines of Business. See for more information. Defined benefit pension plans covered by the PBGC have special additional requirements, including filing premiums and reporting certain transactions directly with that agency. See the PBGC's website at for information on premium filings and reporting and disclosure requirements.


The Form 5500-EZ generally is used by “one-participant plans” (as defined under Specific Instructions Only for “One-Participant Plans on page 6) that are not subject to the requirements of section 104(a) of ERISA to satisfy certain annual reporting and filing obligations imposed by the Code. A “one-participant plan” may also be eligible to file Form 5500-SF. See Specific Instructions Only for “One-Participant Plans. A “one-participant plan” that is eligible to file Form 5500-SF may elect to file Form 5500-SF electronically with EFAST2 rather than filing a Form 5500-EZ on paper with the IRS. A “one-participant plan” that is not eligible to file Form 5500-SF must file Form 5500-EZ on paper with the IRS. For more information on filing with the IRS, go to or call 1-877-829-5500.

Abbreviated filing requirements apply for one-participant plan filers who are eligible to file Form 5500-SF. See Specific Instructions Only for “One-Participant Plans” on page 6.

The Form 5500-SF must be filed electronically. See How To File – Electronic Filing Requirement instructions on page 5 and the EFAST2 website at Your Form 5500-SF entries will be initially screened electronically. Your entries must satisfy this screening for your filing to be received. Once received, your form may be subject to further detailed review, and your filing may be rejected based upon this further review.

ERISA and the Code provide for the assessment or imposition of penalties for not submitting the required information when due. See Penalties on page 5.

Annual returns/reports filed under Title I of ERISA must be made available by plan administrators to plan participants and beneficiaries and by the DOL to the public pursuant to ERISA sections 104 and 106. Pursuant to Section 504 of the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA), this availability for defined benefit pension plans must include the posting of identification and basic plan information and actuarial information on any plan sponsor intranet website (or website maintained by the plan administrator on behalf of the plan sponsor) that is used for the purpose of communicating with employees and not the public. Section 504 also requires DOL to display such information on DOL's website within 90 days after the filing of the plan's annual return/report. To see 2009 Forms 5500, including actuarial information, see See for 2008 and short plan year 2009 actuarial information filed under the previous paper-based system.

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