The Form 5500

The Form 5500 is, in general, a required tax filing each year that provides financial and operational information about retirement plans to the DOL and IRS government entities. In this article, we’ll break it down into a bit more detail about what is reported, the questions that are asked, and when it is due.

What is reported on the Form 5500?

For example, the financial and operational information that is reported on Form 5500 can contain the following: employee and employer contributions, gains and losses, participant withdrawals, participant count, and so on. Some of this information is already readily available; however, most service providers, such as Vestwell, ask that a year-end questionnaire be completed to fill in the blanks of the questions that Form 5500 asks.

What are the questions asked on the Form 5500?

As referenced above, the IRS and DOL incorporate questions of their own near the end of the tax filing to get a better sense of the plan's operations. All of these questions are generally regarding the compliance of the plan. An example of some of the questions that are asked are: what is the fidelity bond amount? Were there any fraudulent transactions? or Were there any participant loans? All of these questions are closely looked at when the Form 5500 is filed.

When is the Form 5500 due?

The Form 5500 is due seven months after the end of the plan year and can be extended for an additional two and a half months by submitting an extension using Form 5558. For calendar year plans (December 31st), the initial deadline is July 31st, and the extended deadline is October 15th. In general, larger plans extend to allow more time for their internal plan audit to be completed.

Keep in mind there are financial penalties for not meeting the deadlines that the IRS and DOL have both stated for each government entity. If you feel you may fall into this category, be sure to contact Vestwell or your current service provider to assess the matter.