On December 8th, 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) released informational copies of the 2022 Form 5500 Series Annual Return/Report. The release includes informational copies of Form 5500-SF short-form reporting for small employee benefit plans. The Form 5500 series return/report satisfies the requirement for pension and benefit plans to complete an annual return or report on their financial conditions, investments, and operations. On May 20, the DOL released a final rule on 2022 Form 5500 filing focusing on improvements to reporting on the actuarial and retirement plan schedules.

Overview of the Form 5500 Series Return/Report

Together with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), the DOL developed the Form 5500 series return/report to allow employee benefit plans to satisfy annual reporting requirements under Title I and Title IV of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and the Internal Revenue Code. ERISA sets minimum standards for most voluntarily established retirement and health plans in private industry. Specifically, ERISA provides protection for individuals in these plans. The Form 5500 series return/report assures that employee benefit plans operate in accordance with certain prescribed standards. Additionally, it ensures that participants, beneficiaries, and regulators have access to sufficient information about their rights under employee benefit plans. Forms 5500 are among the five types of employee records all employers must keep.

Changes to the 2022 Form 5500 Series Return/Report

Employers should find important modifications to the 2022 Form 550 series return/report located in the Changes to Note section of the 2022 instructions for both Form 5500 and Form 5500-SF. Specifically, the Changes to Note sections for both forms include changes to:

  • Multiple-employer plans – changes add new plan characteristic codes to identify different types of multiple-employer defined contribution plans filing the Form 5500 and Form 5500-SF. Meanwhile, technical and conforming changes have been made to the instructions for multiple-employer plan reporting. For example, revising the instructions on identifying the “plan sponsor” and “plan administrator.”
  • Administrative penalties – updated instructions reflect an increase in the maximum civil penalty amount assessable under ERISA section 502(c)(2), as required by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015.
  • Schedule MB for multiemployer defined benefit plan and certain money purchase plan actuarial information – instructions for Form 5500 line 3 now require an attachment that details total withdrawal liability payments made to the plan by date, as well as other changes and instructions to line 4f, line 6e, 6f, and 8b.
  • Schedule R for retirement plan information – Part V, line 13 updates include requirements for plans to identify any participating employer who either contributed more than five percent of the plan’s total contributions or was one of the top-ten highest contributors.
  • Schedule SB for single employer-defined benefit plan actuarial information – Part VI, line 26 now consists of lines 26a and 26b. Line 26b requires an attachment of a projection of expected benefit payments.

Additional Information

Employers should note that they cannot use Form 5500 informational copies to file their 2022 Form 5500 series return/report. Filers may instead access the EFAST2 website for the official electronic versions of the Form 5500 Series as they become available for filing purposes. For further assistance, employers may call the EFAST2 help desk at 866-463-3278.

Finally, EBSA is revamping the EFAST2 authentication process. EFAST2 is an all-electronic system designed by the DOL, IRS, and PBGC to simplify and expedite the submission and processing of the Form 5500 series return/report. Beginning January 1st, 2023, the current EFAST2 log-in process will gradually phase out and be replaced by a unified Login.gov single sign-on solution for U.S. government websites.