By Wiss Associate

If your company has an employee benefit plan, you should be familiar with IRS Form 5500, the form you use to report activity regarding your retirement and welfare plans.

On July 11, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) proposed revisions to Form 5500 and the related schedules in an effort to promote more thorough monitoring of plans by employers, fiduciairies, participants and, of course, the DOL. Here are some of the changes and how they could significantly increase the annual reporting obligations for your company’s retirement and welfare plans.

Retirement plans

Revisions to Form 5500 could spur new questions pertaining to retirement plans. For example, some retirement plans include investments that are difficult to value, such as limited partnerships, private equity, hedge funds and real estate. The proposed changes would require plans to specifically indicate whether they are invested in such areas, allowing for better monitoring and value assessment of  investments. The same changes will apply to small plan filers.

Health and welfare plans

Some small health and welfare plans with fewer than 100 participants currently receive a filing exemption for Form 5500, or if applicable, Form 5500-SF. If the proposed changes take effect, that exemption could be eliminated, requiring health and welfare plan administrators to file Form 5500.

Larger plans could also be impacted with the implementation of a new IRS Schedule J that would require additional reporting information related to enrollment data, denied claims, and payment policies and practices.

What else?

Schedules to Form 5500 could change, as well. They include:

  • Schedule R, which could include a variety of new questions related to plan participation rates and employer matching contributions, as well as questions related to employer compliance in nondiscrimination testing
  • Schedule C, pertaining to indirect service provider compensation, will be required.
  • Schedule E, pertaining to ESOPs. Schedule E was removed in 2009 but could  be brought back if the proposed changes are implemented.

Overall, approval of these changes would significantly increase reporting obligations connected to Form 5500. The Department of Labor is accepting comments through Oct. 4, 2016, and, if the proposed changes are adopted, the revised reporting requirements would generally be effective for the 2019 plan year.

If you’d like to speak with an associate from Wiss to discuss this topic further, you may reach us at 973.994.9400 or at


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