(b)lines Ask the Experts – Form 5500 Filing Tips

“We are preparing to file or 2015 Form 5500s for our ERISA retirement plans? Any last-minute filing tips from the Experts?”

Michael A. Webb, vice president, Cammack Retirement Group, answers:  

Absolutely! Heard to believe that the extended deadline for the 2015 calendar-year 5500 filings (October 17, 2016 this year, since October 15th falls on a weekend) is already upon us! Here are some 2015 Form 5500 filing tips from the Experts: 

Confirm that some questions were skipped—Now, this may sound counterintuitive (Why should I be skipping some questions that I would normally be required to answer?), but there is a quirk in the 2015 5500 filing that requires the filer to skip certain questions. The reason for this is that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) added some questions that it later decided to essentially retract, but the questions still appear on the form. The list of questions that should be skipped is here, and you should confirm that such questions were skipped, since there is zero benefit to responding to such questions (and, indeed, it may be a detriment).

Even if your form is “signature-ready,” this does NOT mean you should simply sign it without review—The Experts have encountered many example of errors on completed returns that were supposedly “signature-ready.” Thus, you should indeed conduct a line-by-line review of all of your 5500 filings to confirm that the information is complete and accurate, If you don’t understand an entry, contact your preparer for clarification. Particular attention should be paid to the following areas:

  • Participant counts;
  • Plan numbers and employer tax ID numbers;
  • Confirming that figures reconcile to the prior year filing, such as participant counts or plan asset figures; and
  • Reporting all applicable service provider information on Schedule C, particularly inactive providers who are not grandfathered from 5500 disclosure and still receive compensation from plan assets.

Don’t forget From 8955-SSA— this form, which is completely separate from the Form 5500 and must be filed with the  IRS as opposed the Department of Labor (DOL), is used to report participants who have terminated employment and left assets on deposit in their employer’s retirement plan. These participants are reported to the Social Security Administration, which notifies the participants of the possible existence of such assets when they file for benefits. For filing details, see this page

Best of luck with your 2015 5500 filing(s)!


NOTE: This feature is to provide general information only, does not constitute legal advice, and cannot be used or substituted for legal or tax advice.  

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