Which Employee Benefit Plans Require Form 5500 Reporting?

You may know that Form 5500 filing is required for your 401(k) plan or your medical insurance, but were you aware that it must be done for other employee benefit plans as well?

What is the Form 5500?

The Form 5500 Series was jointly developed by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) to simplify the submission of the annual reporting requirements under ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code.

Per the DOL, the Form 5500 Series is an important compliance, research, and disclosure tool, a disclosure document for plan participants and beneficiaries, and a source of information and data for use by other Federal agencies, Congress, and the private sector in assessing employee benefit, tax, and economic trends and policies.

If you sponsor an employee benefit plan that is subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), you must file certain information about the plan every year. Depending on the type of plan and the number of participants, different information is required.

Are your plans subject to ERISA?

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is a federal law that sets minimum standards for most voluntarily established retirement and health plans in private industry to provide protection for individuals in these plans. ERISA requires plans to provide participants with important information about the plan’s features, sets minimum standards for plan design, requires an adequate appeals process, gives participants the right to sue for benefits and breaches of fiduciary duty, and provides guaranteed payment for defined benefit plans.

In general, pension and welfare benefit plans must comply with ERISA guidelines. However, ERISA generally does not cover plans established or maintained by governmental entities or churches.

Which employee benefits are included?

In general, you must file a Form 5500 if your welfare benefit plan has 100 participants or more at the beginning of the plan year, or the plan holds assets in a trust.

 Welfare benefit plans that must file a Form 5500 may include (but are not limited to):

  • Medical
  • Dental
  • Vision
  • Disability
  • Life
  • Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs)
  • Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)

If you are unsure whether a plan requires a Form 5500 filing, please consult your benefits advisor, as fines for not filing can be severe. By taking proactive measures, you may be able to reduce your penalties by taking advantage of the Employee Benefits Security Administration’s (EBSA’s) Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance program.

When must the Form 5500 be filed?

Form 5500 and its accompanying schedules must be filed with EBSA on or before the last day of the seventh month following the close of the plan year. This is generally July 31 for calendar-year plans.

Do I need to share the information in the Form 5500 filings with employees?

Yes, you must furnish participants with a Summary Annual Report (SAR) to outline the information included in the Form 5500 and to provide details regarding the plan’s financial condition. It is due within nine months after the end of the plan year.


Reporting and Disclosure Guide for Employee Benefit Plans

Filing Instructions

If you have any additional questions, please reach out to our support team and we will put you in touch with a contact at our partner Wrangle (an Ascensus company), experts in Form 5500 filing.