WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, the IRS and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. today released a Federal Register Notice announcing changes to the Form 5500 Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan and Form 5500-SF Short Form Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan, and related instructions, that apply beginning with 2022 plan year reports.

The agencies published a Notice of Proposed Forms Revisions in September 2021. A separate Federal Register Notice was published in December 2021 that announced changes adopted as part of the Form 5500 series reports for the 2021 plan year.

The notice announced today for the 2022 plan year Form 5500 and Form 5500-SF changes focuses mainly on improvements in reporting on the actuarial and retirement plan schedules (Schedules MB, SB, and R) filed by defined benefit pension plans subject to Title IV of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. The final rule also adopts additions to the plan characteristics codes reported on line 8 of Form 5500, and on line 9 of Form 5500-SF, to improve the data reported on defined contribution multiple employer plans, including pooled employer plans. The instructions also contain clarifying additions related to Part II of Form 5500 and Form 5500-SF that collect plan sponsor and plan administrator information.  No changes to the department’s implementing regulations are required for these changes.

The notice includes appendices that illustrate the changes to the forms and instructions. The regular web-posting of “information only” mock-ups of forms and instructions will happen later this year in advance of the annual Jan 1 “go live” date for EFAST2 filings.

Filings for the 2022 plan year generally are not due until seven months after the end of the 2022 plan year, e.g., July 31, 2023, for calendar year plans, and a 2½-month extension is available by filing IRS Form 5558, Application for Extension of Time to File Certain Employee Plan Returns, on or before the normal due date.

The agencies anticipate publishing a third notice addressing other elements of the September 2021 Notice of Proposed Form Revisions and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, including the proposals relating to a Schedule MEP for multiple employer plans, a consolidated reporting option for certain defined contribution reporting groups, new tax code compliance questions, and the plan size threshold for an annual audit by an independent qualified public accountant. The agencies continue to review public comments received in response to the September 2021 proposal and evaluate the best way to coordinate further form, instruction, and regulatory changes with the annual contractual development schedule for the EFAST2 filing system.

Under ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code, unless exempt, pension and other employee benefit plans generally are required to file annual returns/reports concerning, among other things, the financial condition, investments, and operations of the plan. Filing a Form 5500 Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan, a Form 5500-SF Annual Return/Report of Small Employee Benefit Plan, or a Form 5500-EZ Annual Return of a One-Participant (Owners/Partners and Their Spouses) Retirement Plan or a Foreign Plan – together with any required schedules and attachments – generally satisfies these annual reporting requirements. 

The Form 5500 Annual Return/Report is filed by employee benefit plans and certain other entities and serves as the principal source of information and data concerning the operations, funding, and investments of approximately 844,000 pension and welfare benefit plans that file. ERISA plans cover roughly 158 million workers, retirees, and dependents of private sector pension and welfare plans with estimated assets of $12.9 trillion.

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