Effective January 1, 2010, all Form 5500 Annual Returns/Reports of Employee Benefit Plan and all Form 5500-SF Short Form Annual Returns/Reports of Small Employee Benefit Plan for 2009 and future plan years, and any required schedules and attachments, must be completed and filed electronically at www.efast.dol.gov using EFAST2 (ERISA Filing Acceptance System) approved third-party software or using IFILE.
Late and amended filings of Form 5500 must also be submitted electronically through EFAST2. A limited exception is available for certain 2008 plan year filings through October 15, 2010. Responses to notices about late filings and reasonable cause statements for late filings must also be submitted electronically through the EFAST2 website.
Form 5500-EZ (Annual Return of One-Participant (Owners and Their Spouses)) plan sponsors may file the Form 5500-SF electronically with EFAST2 rather than filing a paper copy of the Form 5500-EZ with the IRS. Alternatively they may file paper copies of Form 5500-EZ and related schedules.
The electronic filing process has some back and forth between the plan sponsor, third party administrator and EFAST2. Good third party administrators will make this process relatively easy and communicate the process to plan sponsors.
Administrative Retirement Services, Inc. (ARS) has developed a simple process for the electronic filing so that the plan sponsor understands the process and what needs to be done. ARS has created and distributed to all plan sponsors a one page memo which explains how to create signing credentials on the EFAST2 website. When it is time for plan sponsors to sign the return electronically, ARS will provide a one page memo which explains how to sign the return electronically and how to retrieve signing credentials if they have been misplaced.
Note Schedule SSA cannot be submitted to EFAST2. The Schedule SSA is used to report participants with deferred vested benefits. In the past the Department of Labor (DOL) would forward the reported data to the Social Security Administration (SSA). Since social security information is provided on the Schedule SSA and the data on the 5500 is public information, Schedule SSA will be filed separately with the IRS. The filing requirements have not been released as of the writing of this article but will probably include some type of electronic filing.
If you have questions about Electronic Filing of Form 5500, please contact Administrative Retirement Services, Inc.