Form 5500 Corner

 

The IRS, Department of Labor, and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation developed the Form 5500-series returns for employee benefit plans to satisfy annual reporting requirements under ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code.

Plan sponsors must generally file the return on the last day of the seventh month after their plan year ends.

Form Who files Where to file Additional tips
Form 5500, Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan (form and instructions)

The employer maintaining the plan or the plan administrator of a Pension or Welfare benefit plan covered by ERISA.

File Form 5500 to report information on the qualification of the plan, its financial condition, investments and the operations of the plan.

Must file electronically through EFAST2.

Due date: the last day of the seventh month after the plan year ends (July 31 for a calendar year plan).

Extensions: request on Form 5558

See Increased Penalties for Failure to File Retirement Plan Returns below.

Frequently Asked Questions about EFAST2 Electronic Filing System (Form 5500s filing)

Troubleshooter's Guide to Filing the ERISA Annual Report PDF

Fixing Problems with Electronic Signatures for 5500 Series Returns

DOL's Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program-

IRS Penalty Relief for DOL DFVC Filers

Form 5500-SF, Short Form Annual Return/Report of Small Employee Benefit Plan (form and instructions)

A plan with fewer than 100 participants and meets all of the eligibility conditions.

You can no longer use Form 5500-SF in place of Form 5500-EZ.

See the instructions for Form 5500-SF for eligibility requirements.

Must file electronically through EFAST2.

Form 5500-EZ, Annual Return of A One-Participant (Owners/Partners and Their Spouses) Retirement Plan or A Foreign Plan PDF (instructions PDF)

Schedules: Completed and signed Schedules SB and MB, if applicable. You don't need to file the Schedule MB or Schedule SB, but you must keep with your records.

Get prior year forms and instructions.

A one-participant plan or a foreign plan.

Beginning January 1, 2021, a “One-participant” plan * and a foreign plan can file Form 5500-EZ electronically using the EFAST2 filing system or file Form 5500-EZ on paper with the IRS. You can no longer use Form 5500-SF in place of Form 5500-EZ.

Certain foreign plans maintained outside the U.S. by a domestic employer or a foreign employer primarily for the benefit of nonresident aliens must file Form 5500-EZ rather than Form 5500.

 

If you file Form 5500-EZ electronically, you can either use:

If you file Form 5500-EZ on paper, you must mail it to:

Department of the Treasury
IRS
Ogden, UT 84201-0020

 

Due date: the last day of the seventh month after the plan year ends (July 31 for a calendar year plan).

Extensions: request on Form 5558

Mandatory electronic filing

Penalty relief program for Form 5500-EZ late filers

Request copies of filed Forms 5500-EZ using Form 4506 PDF (includes instructions).

Filing an Amended 2020 Form 5500-EZ

Form 8955-SSA, Annual Registration Statement Identifying Separated Participants with Deferred Vested Benefits PDF

Form 8955-SSA Instructions PDF

 

Plan administrators of plans that have separated participants with deferred vested benefits.

File electronically through the IRS FIRE system – no electronic signature needed.

Approved software vendors.

May mail it to:

Department of the Treasury
IRS
Ogden, UT 84201-0024

 

Due date: the last day of the seventh month after the plan year ends (July 31 for a calendar year plan)

Extensions: request on Form 5558

Mandatory electronic filing

Delinquent or amended returns: use the current year form

See Increased Penalties for Failure to File Retirement Plan Returns below.

Form 8955-SSA Resources FAQs, guidance and e-file provider information

Form 5558, Application for Extension of Time To File Certain Employee Plan Returns PDF (form and instructions)

Plan administrators who want to file for an extension of time for the following returns:

  • Form 5500
  • Form 5500-SF
  • Form 5500-EZ
  • Form 8955-SSA
  • Form 5330

Must be mailed to:

Department of the Treasury
IRS
Ogden, UT 84201-0045

 

Use a separate Form 5558 for each plan for which you're requesting an extension. Do not attach lists of plans to a Form 5558.

Use a separate Form 5558 for an extension of time to file Form 5330 or Form 5500 series. Signatures are needed for extension to file Form 5330, but not for extension to file Form 5500 series or Form 8955-SSA.

May use a single Form 5558 to extend the Form 5500 and Form 8955-SSA filed for the same plan.

Avoid errors when requesting an extension.

* A "one-participant plan," for purposes of the Form 5500-EZ, means a retirement plan not subject to the annual ERISA Title I reporting requirements that only covers the owner who owns the entire business (whether or not incorporated) and owner's spouse, or one or more partners, and their spouses in a business partnership (treating 2% shareholder of an S corporation, as defined in IRC Section 1372(b), as a partner).

A plan is not a one-participant plan if the plan benefits anyone besides the owner (or owner and spouse) or partners (or partners and their spouses).

One-Participant Plans or Foreign Plans Can File Form 5500-EZ electronically Using EFAST2 Filing System

Beginning January 1, 2021, a one-participant plan or a foreign plan required to file an annual return can file Form 5500-EZ electronically using the Department of Labor’s EFAST2 filing system, or file Form 5500-EZ on paper with the IRS. Form 5500-SF can no longer be used by a one-participant plan or a foreign plan filer in place of Form 5500-EZ. Information for a one-participant plan or a foreign plan filed electronically with EFAST2 filing system will not be available to the public on DOL’s website.

A one-participant plan or a foreign plan must file Form 5500-EZ electronically through the EFAST2 filing system, if the plan sponsor is subject to IRS e-filing requirements (see Mandatory Electronic Filing) pursuant to Treas. Reg. 301.6058-2.

Plans Retroactively Adopted After the End of the Employer’s Tax Year Plan Year Have No 2020 Form 5500 -Series Filing Requirement

Under Section 201 of the SECURE Act, employers can adopt a plan by the due date of their tax return, including extensions, and elect to treat the plan as being effective for the employer’s tax year. This provision applies to plans adopted for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2019.
An employer with a 2020 calendar year tax year that adopts a plan in 2021 by the due date of their tax return, including extensions, may elect to treat the plan as having been adopted on the last day of the employer’s 2020 tax year:

  • A Form 5500 series return is not required to be filed for the 2020 plan year.  
  • The first Form 5500 series return required to be filed is for the 2021 plan year.
  • The plan sponsor must check a box on the 2021 Form 5500 series return indicating the employer elects to treat the plan as retroactively adopted as of the last day of the employer’s 2020 tax year.

Additionally, if the plan is a defined benefit plan, the employer will be required to attach a 2020 Schedule SB to the 2021 Form 5500 or Form 5500-SF, in addition to a 2021 Schedule SB. The instructions for the 2021 Form 5500 will further explain the filing requirements for plans adopted retroactively.

We anticipate that similar rules will apply to the retroactive adoption of a plan pursuant to section 201 of the SECURE Act after an employer’s 2021 taxable year.

Form 5558 extension: Plan sponsors that submitted a Form 5558, Application for Extension of Time to File Certain Employee Plan Returns, for a retroactively adopted plan will not establish a 2020 Form 5500 filing requirement.

Additionally, filing the Form 5558 does not result in an IRS delinquency notice if no 2020 Form 5500 was filed for the plan specified in the Form 5558. Delinquency notices are based on when the Form 5500 is filed, not the filing of the Form 5558.

Increased Penalties for Failure to File Retirement Plan Returns

Section 403 of the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (SECURE Act), Division O of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (P.L. 116-94), increases penalties for failure to file certain retirement plan returns effective for returns, statements, and notifications required to be filed after December 31, 2019.

The penalty for failure to file Form 5500 series and Form 5310-A required by IRC 6058 increased to $250 per day, not to exceed $150,000. The penalty for failure to file a registration statement, Form 8955-SSA, required by IRC 6057(a), increased to $10 for each participant with respect to whom there is a failure to file multiplied by the number of days the failure occurred, not to exceed $50,000 with respect to any plan year. The penalty for failure to file a notification of change of plan status required by IRC 6057(b) increased to $10 for each day during which such failure occurs, not to exceed $10,000.  

Notices from the IRS

Did you receive an IRS filing notice for a Forms 5500, 5558 or 5500-EZ filing? These FAQs help you understand your notice if you received a CP403, CP406, CP 216H, CP216F or CP214 notice.

Ask a Question

If you need help completing Form 5500 or Form 5500-SF:

  • Call the toll-free EFAST2 Help Desk at 866-463-3278, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., ET.
  • Visit the EFAST2 website for filing instructions, approved software vendors and more.
  • Contact Us - Telephone representatives will help answer basic questions such as filing requirements and due date for Form 5500, status of pending determination letter applications and responding to notices.

Additional resources