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​Benefit plan sponsors benefit from our experience preparing thousands of 5500s each year.

Form 5500

Benefit Plan Sponsors Benefit from Our Experience Preparing Thousands of 5500s

The Department of Labor (DOL), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation jointly developed the Form 5500 as a tool for employee benefit plan sponsors to complete and fulfill their annual reporting requirement under Title I and Title IV of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and under the Internal Revenue Code.

All defined contribution, defined benefit, and health and welfare benefit plans covered by ERISA are required to file an annual informational return - Form 5500 Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan - providing information with respect to their financial condition, investments, income and expenses, and general plan operations.

Governmental and Non-electing Church Plans Are Among the Few Exceptions to Form 5500 Filing Requirements

A plan sponsor must annually file Form 5500s for the plans that it maintains with the Department of Labor.  Generally, the annual filings are required for any year in which a participant benefits or has a right to benefit under the plan, even if benefits no longer continue to accrue under the plan, or contributions are no longer being made.  There are very few exceptions to the annual Form 5500 filing requirement, most notably church plans that do not elect to be covered by ERISA, governmental plans, and small, unfunded health and welfare benefit plan arrangements.

Regulators look at the Form 5500 information to assure them that the employee benefit plans are operated and managed in accordance with prescribed standards and that participants and beneficiaries have access to enough information to protect their rights and benefits.

Form 5500 Provides Data on Employee Benefit Trends

Form 5500 is also an important research tool. Federal agencies, Congress, and the private sector use the data to assess employee benefits, economic trends, and policies.

Plante Moran prepares thousands of 5500s every year. Whether we audit the benefit plan or not, we can provide various levels of service from performing a high-level review of informational returns (Form 5500) prepared by your internal staff or third-party administrator to preparing the complete informational returns.

Schedule C Reporting - Enhanced Fee Disclosure

Beginning with the 2009 plan year, plan sponsors have had to revamp their methodologies with respect to the tracking and reporting of Schedule C compensation.  A Schedule C must be attached to the Form 5500 filed by large plan filers to report individuals who rendered services to the plan, or in connection with transactions with the plan, who received, directly or indirectly, $5,000 or more in compensation during the plan year.  Compensation may include money or “anything of value”, including expenses, gifts, and services “received in relation to the person’s position with the plan” or “services rendered to the plan.”  

Plante Moran regularly works with clients or directly with service providers and has detailed checklists and procedures to obtain necessary Schedule C compensation information, including a critical review of service providers’ relationships with the plan to ensure that all compensation - both direct and indirect - is available so that Plante Moran can properly prepare the Schedule C.

Form 8955-SSA

In late 2011, the IRS released the stand-alone Form 8955-SSA, which replaced the Schedule SSA (formerly included with the Form 5500 filing).  Similar to its predecessor, Schedule SSA, Form 8955-SSA provides the Social Security Administration with certain information related to separated participants that are entitled to future retirement plan benefits.

Plante Moran offers coordinated Form 8955-SSA services to all retirement plan Form 5500 clients, including preparation of the returns and/or working with plan actuaries or TPAs to ensure returns are timely and accurately filed.

We have extensive experience with Form 5500 returns for:

  • Defined Contribution Plans (including 401(k), Profit Sharing, Money Purchase Pension) 
  • Defined Benefit Plans 
  • Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) 
  • Master Trusts 
  • Health & Welfare Benefit Plans

Plante Moran has significant experience in preparing, reviewing, and assisting with Form 5500s and all attachments and related schedules and Forms 8955-SSA.  We are happy to help in any way.
 

The U. S. Department of Labor advises: ​

One of the most common reasons for deficient accountants’ reports is the failure of the auditor to perform tests in areas unique to employee benefit plan audits. The more training and experience that an auditor has with employee benefit plan audits, the more familiar the auditor will be with benefit plan practices and operations, as well as the special auditing standards and rules that apply to such plans.