Plan administrators will be filing a new Form 5500 annual return/report for
the 1999 plan year. It consists of a single Form 5500 with basic identifying
information, to be completed by all filers, and 13 schedules focused on specific
subjects and filing requirements—five pension schedules, seven financial
schedules and one fringe benefit schedule. Form 5500-C/R has been eliminated.
The revisions were adopted concurrently with the implementation of a new
computerized ERISA Filing Acceptance System (EFAST), which relies on computer-scannable
forms and electronic filing technologies.
The 1999 Form 5500 is available in two different formats. Both include the
same data but provide filers with a choice of formats. The first allows the
filer to enter required data online using special software. After the filer
enters all required data, the completed forms and required attachments may be
filed electronically or printed and mailed. Electronic submissions must conform
to all electronic specifications, and the filer must retain a copy with all
required signatures as part of the plan records. If the filer prefers to mail in
the form, it must include all required signatures and be mailed to the address
in the Form 5500 instructions.
The second format is a "hand print" format. The filer enters data
by hand or typewriter on specially designed green drop-out ink forms and the
EFAST system uses optical character recognition technology to scan the hand or
typewritten data entries. The hand-print format must be mailed to the address
specified in the Form 5500 instructions. The DOL has announced limited
transition year relief for 1999 Form 5500 filers:
| If the
filer's normal deadline for the 1999 plan year is on or before July 31,
2000, the deadline is extended to October 16, 2000, without having to
file a Form 5558.
transition-year difficulties" will be considered in granting
"reasonable cause" penalty abatements for late filers.
If a plan's normal due date (without regard to extensions) is after July 31,
2000, the plan administrator must still file Form 5558, if required, on or
before its normal due date to secure a 2 1/2 month extension.
agencies will accept "machine print" versions of the forms
even if some line entries are made by hand, and will accept filings that
include a mix of "machine print" and "hand print"
versions of the form.
The 1999 Form 5500 package (hand-print green dropout ink forms and
instructions) will be distributed to employee benefit plan filers as it has in
past years. Plan administrators may go to the EFAST web page at
www.efast.dol.gov for information on obtaining the machine print forms and