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Help With The Form 5500 and 5500-SF

The Department of Labor (DOL), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) jointly developed the Form 5500 Annual Returns/Reports of Employee Benefit Plans and Form 5500-SF Short Form Annual Returns/Reports of Small Employee Benefit Plans for employee benefit plans to satisfy annual reporting requirements under ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code. Compliance assistance includes forms for summary annual reports, model IQPA audit waiver, guidance, and FAQ.

A return/report must be filed every year for every pension benefit plan, welfare benefit plan, and for every direct filing entity. If you are a small plan (generally under 100 participants at the beginning of the plan year), you may be eligible to file the Form 5500-SF instead of the Form 5500. For more information, see the instructions to the Form 5500-SF. Instructions and sample forms for the Form 5500 and 5500-SF explain in detail who must file.

The Form 5500 Version Selection tool can help determine exactly which form in the 5500 series you must file.

All Form 5500 and 5500-SFs must be completed and filed electronically using EFAST2-approved third-party software or using this website’s IFILE tool. The Form 5500 Series Quick Start Guide provides an overview of how to file the Form 5500 or 5500-SF. For more detailed information on how to file, see the EFAST2 FAQs and other publications.

Plan sponsors must generally file the return on the last day of the seventh month after their plan year ends (July 31 for a calendar-year plan). Extensions for up to 2.5 months may be requested in advance by filing the Form 5558 with the IRS. The IRS, DOL, and PBGC may announce special extensions of time for filers affected by Presidentially-declared disasters or who are serving in a combat zone. These special extensions are announced on the IRS’s website. Whatever special extension of filing Form 5500 granted by the IRS will also be automatically permitted by the DOL and PBGC.

If you are late in filing, you may apply for DOL’s Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program (DFVCP). The IRS will generally waive late filing penalties for Form 5500 and 5500-SF filers who satisfy the DFVCP.

Copies of submitted filings are generally publicly available on this website’s Filing Search tool.