Benefit Plan Tax Filings and Reporting Guide

Each year, funds are deducted from an employee and contributed by an employer to form retirement plans. These plans can give returns on an annual basis by a specific date. The filing of the key forms and reports with the IRS and the Department of Labour is essential to track what is happening within the plans. The entities that are holding the plans also ensure the plan participants receive notices on what is happening within the plan. Retirement plan reporting typically happens through the Form 5500 series. This series is part of the ERISA: Employment Retirement Income Security Act reporting. This act is in place to ensure that retirement plans are managed based on prescribed standards. The Form 5500 series includes the following: -

  1. 5500 – Annual Return / Report of Employee Benefit plan
    • This is a report that is submitted electronically, and the employer maintains it. In some cases, the administrator does the maintenance of a welfare benefit plan. In this report, it is possible to view all the investments, the financial condition of the employee benefit plans and details on the operations.
  1. 5500-EZ – Annual Return of One-participant Retirement plan
    • With this form, one participant is not subject to all the requirements that are outlined in the internal revenue code of section 104(2). This is within the Employee Retirement Income Security Act from 1974.
  1. 5500-SF – Short Form Annual Return / Report of Small Employee Benefit plan
    • This form is a simple annual reporting form. It caters specifically to small pensions as well as welfare benefit plans. When filing for this form, the employee mustn't be required to file a Form M-1.
  1. 8955-SSA – Annual Registration Statement Identifying Separated Participants with Deferred Vested Benefits
    • This benefit is filled by participants who are no longer in service and who may have a deferred vested plan benefits after the separation has taken place.
  1. 5558 – Application of Extension of Time to File Certain Employee Plan Returns.
    • With this form, it is possible to extend the due date for the annual Form 5500 filing. This can come in handy when a human resource manager needs to file for a large number of participants.
Benefit plan tax filings and reporting need to be done in compliance with both state and federal laws. The penalties for not filing are steep. Take, for example, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), where benefits may be in several plans. Late filing may lead to penalties charged per plan and per day. Retirement plan reporting is mandatory so that the individuals who have the plan have a clear picture of what is happening within the plan. This plan should include financial information, rules of the plan, management details as well as any other documents that make up the operations of this plan. At least once a year, the report should be given at no charge. However, there may be additional charges if reports are required more regularly.