Beginning with the 2009 plan year, 403(b) plans subject
to Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) are required
to file full Form 5500 reporting.
BNA reports that Albert told an employee benefits
conference sponsored by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
that whether or not a good faith effort was made will be determined by the
department on a “case by case basis, especially for reportable contracts,” however,
he said a reasonable effort must have been made to locate, identify, and
account for contracts.
Albert cited the department’s Field Assistance Bulletin
2009-02 (see 403(b) Relief on Form 5500 Extends to Future Plan Years) which outlined its
position on good faith efforts, but said the bulletin provides “enforcement
relief, not audit relief,” according to BNA.
Regarding the new requirement of a plan audit for plans
with greater than 100 participants, Albert said the DoL “cannot tell
accountants how to audit plans or what kind of reports to issue, [o]nly the
accounting profession can make those decisions.” However, he said any
deviations from these standards need to be “fully disclosed,”
according to BNA.
Robert Lavenberg, BDO Seidman LLP’s national
partner-in-charge of employee benefit plan audit quality, and also vice-chair
of the AICPA Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center Executive Committee told
conference attendees that the Field Assistance Bulletin 2009-02 which allows for
certain contracts and/or accounts to be excluded from the new requirements is
causing “angst” in the accounting profession, as auditors feel these are assets
of the plan and their exclusion from financial statements will impact audit
However, Albert said that if a plan administrator
excludes a contract from being audited, then the auditor is under no obligation
to audit it, BNA reports.