David Levine, Groom Law Group, answers:
Good question. You are asking about the new IRS Form 8955-SSA filing requirements. The IRS has a very good website (http://www.irs.gov/retirement/article/0,,id=238959,00.html) with a lot of helpful information.
This new form was issued because, as part of the redesign on the Form 5500 annual report several years ago, the requirement to report participants with deferred vested benefits on Form 5500 Schedule SSA was eliminated. However, the IRS still wants to gather information about participants who terminate with a deferred vested benefit. You should keep in mind that this Form 8955-SSA filing requirement only applies to 403(b) plans subject to ERISA.
Who is responsible for completing the Form 8955-SSA varies. In general, the obligation to file is assigned to a plan’s “plan administrator” which is most commonly the sponsoring entity or a committee. A vendor may agree to assist with this reporting requirement, but it will vary from vendor to vendor.
One thing you should also keep in mind is that the IRS has a Q&A on its website (http://www.irs.gov/retirement/article/0,,id=249872,00.html) that eliminates the reporting requirements for certain annuity contracts and custodial accounts that fall within the transition relief previously provided by the Department of Labor in Field Assistance Bulletin 2009-02 (see Ask the Experts – Form 8955-SSA Data from Vendors) that allows certain older annuity contracts and custodial accounts to be treated as not part of a 403(b) plan’s plan assets for purposes of the Form 5500 annual report requirements.
We hope this summary helps get you started on your compliance with these new requirements. You should keep in mind that the first Form 8955-SSA filing, for the 2009 plan year, may be due as soon as January 17, 2012.
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.