5500 Filing Season in Full Swing!

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An Employer with health and welfare benefit plans that have 100 or more participants on the first day of the plan year will have a Form 5500 filing deadline seven months after the end of the plan year. For calendar year plans, the deadline is July 31, making July a big month for Form 5500 filings.

Form 5500 is an ERISA requirement for all health and welfare plans subject to ERISA that meets certain criteria. Employers that sponsor insured plans and self-insured plans (including the Health Care FSA and Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA)) only have filing requirements if they are large plans that are unfunded with 100 or more participants on the first date of the plan year, for each respective plan. Other component benefit plans that may require filing include plans that provide major medical, dental, long-term disability, AD&D, or group term life insurance. Funded plans (plans that hold assets in a trust) must file Form 5500 regardless of the number of covered employees.

Church controlled groups and governmental entities (i.e. state, city, town, village, public school districts, etc.) are not subject to ERISA and will not be required to file Form 5500 even if their plan participation exceeds 100 participants.

How do I count participants if I offer multiple benefits under a wrap plan?

Each unique employee must be counted independently (and would count as one participant) if they are covered by one or more plans included in the wrap document. Unlike reports provided by the insurer carriers on a Schedule A, dependents (spouses and any children) covered on plans are not included in the counts. Consider the following example:

A Wrap Plan Document includes the employer’s medical, dental, and vision plans. The employer may need to determine the number of covered employees as of the first day of the plan year from payroll or billing records, as the carrier provides the Schedule A with count reports for the number of individuals covered (employee, spouse, and children) on the plan at the ending date of the plan year. Assume the counts as follows:

  • Medical Plan: 88 employees (152 covered lives)
  • Dental Plan: 91 employees (124 covered lives)
  • Vision Plan: 89 employees (110 covered lives)

While it would seem that a 5500 would not be required as all the employee participation counts are less than 100, you first have to consider if there are employees on just one or multiple benefits. Employees are only counted once for determining if you are required to a file Form 5500. Below is an illustration of the actual enrollments. Those in the yellow circle are covered under the medical plan. Those in the blue circle are covered under the dental plan. Those in the red circle are covered under the vision plan. As you see, there are various ways that the plans overlap.

5500 Count Illustration

The totals in each of these sections would have to be added together order to get a total unique participant count. When all are totaled, there are 101 employees participating in at least one of the lines of coverage (3+5+4+4+76+6+3). In this case, the wrap plan participation triggers the need to file a 5500 and information would be required for all benefits under the Wrap Plan.

What happens if the employer cannot file on time?

In the event that an employer cannot complete and electronically submit Form 5500 by the deadline for their plan year, a one-time 2.5 month extension can be requested by submitting IRS Form 5558. The extension deadline for 2019 calendar year plans is 7/31/2020. Note: This is the same date as the initial filing deadline. While some tax filing deadlines were automatically extended to 7/15/2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the deadline for filing plans with years ending 12/31/2019 and later were not.

If the employer fails to file the extension by the filing deadline, there is a penalty of $50 per day for late returns with no penalty maximum, unless the employer uses the Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program (DFVC). The penalty is assessed per ERISA plan number for each plan year that is late.

More information about the DFVC is available in our Compliance BuzzArticle Consequences and Remedies for Late and Missing Form 5500s.

Please see the table below for a full listing of Form 5500 filing deadlines as well as extended deadlines. (Dates in table based on plan years ending on the month-end.)

Filing Extension Requests

If an employer cannot meet the initial Form 5500 deadline they can request a one-time 2.5 month extension by completing a Form 5558. A copy of Form 5558 can be obtained on the IRS website http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f5558.pdf

To complete the Form 5558 for health and welfare plans, an employer must fill in the Employer name, address, EIN, Plan Name, Plan Number and Plan ending date, and the requested extension deadline portions of the form (see sample below). This information can be generally found in the employer’s Summary Plan Description. The extension request is for a maximum of 2.5 months and is granted automatically as long as the Form 5558 extension request is postmarked by the original filing deadline. If the employer is requesting an extension for the Form 5500 series, an employer signature is not required.

Although Form 5500 must be filed electronically, Form 5558 (which requests the filing extension) must be submitted via U.S. Mail or Private Delivery Service (DHL Express, Federal Express, and UPS). The mailing address for all extension requests regardless of state of organization or filing deadline is:

Department of the Treasury

Internal Revenue Service Center

Ogden, UT 84201-0045

Important:  Failure to file Form 5500 by the extension deadline will result in a $50 per day penalty assessment back to the original Form 5500 deadline. For example, if you file Form 5558 and request an extension for your calendar year plan until 10/15/2019 – but you do not file your Form 5500 until 10/20/2019 – the $50 per day penalty assessment will apply back to the initial 7/31/2019 deadline date, not just the 10/15/2019 extension date. Employer’s should be aware that ERISA compliance is very important and the Department of Labor (DOL) has the authority to assess a penalty of up to $2,233 per day for failure to comply with 5500 filing obligations.

Form 5500 Preparation Services

Employee Benefits Corporation is able to assist employers with health and welfare plan Form 5500 preparation. We will automatically prepare Form 5500’s for employers that have our BESTflex plan if applicable and employers may request 5500 filing service for EBC HRA for a fee. Employers that do not use our FSA or HRA administration services or need insured plan, self-funded or wrap plan filings may separately contract with us under Compliance Services for 5500 preparation. Please contact sales@ebcflex.com for more information and pricing details.


Below, please find a table of deadlines for filing Form 5500 (including the deadline with an extension, provided Form 5558 was filed timely).

Plan Year Ending

Form 5500 (or Form 5558) Deadline

Form 5500 Deadline with approved extension








































Sample Form 5558

Below is a sample, completed Form 5558 created for a calendar year plan.

Sample 5558

Categories: Benefits in General, Compliance, Health Care in General | Tags: Form 5500 , Form 5558 , IRS , ERISA | Return