What is Form 5500?
Updated over a week ago

The Form 5500 Series is part of the reporting and disclosure requirements under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The purpose of the form is to ensure that retirement plans meet set standards and government regulations.

In general, all employers who sponsor a retirement plan governed by ERISA, such as 401(k) and profit-sharing plans, must file Form 5500 each year with the Department of Labor (DOL), though the IRS and Pension Benefits Guarantee Board (PBGC) also receive the information.

What is reported on Form 5500

The Form 5500 reports the following information for retirement plans:

  • General plan information and service providers

  • Number of participants

  • Financial data, such as assets, liabilities, income, expenses and transfers

  • Types of benefits provided under the plan

  • Operational activities

  • Plan funding

The versions of Form 5500

There are several variations of Form 5500. Generally, the one you must file depends on the number of participants in your plan:

  • Form 5500: Larger plans with more than 100 participants

  • 5500-EZ: Single-participant plans

  • 5500-SF: Plans with less than 100 participants

Compared to the Form 5500, Forms 5500-SF and EZ have summarized financial information sections and no additional schedules to attach.

You can learn more about which form you’ll need to fill out this year here.

Form 5500 filing deadline

Form 5500 filing is due on the last day of the seventh month after the end of the plan year. For calendar year plans, this is July 31.

Plans requiring a standard Form 5500 must also typically complete a plan audit. Therefore, Guideline typically files an automatic extension until October 15 to ensure ample time for audit completion.

An audit is generally not required for plans with fewer than 100 eligible employees.

Guideline’s Form 5500 filing requirements

At Guideline, we include preparation and electronic filing of the Form 5500 at no added cost.

Please note, for plans that converted to Guideline, we will need to receive the conversion assets and a year-to-date trust report to ensure we have the necessary financial information for the entire plan year. Otherwise, we will be unable to file a complete and accurate Form 5500.

If you fail to convert your assets by June 1 of the year following the year in which the conversion took place, we will file as if you have a new plan, and your plan’s Trustee will receive a letter regarding non-discrimination testing.

Find out more about Guideline’s Form 5500 filing process here.

If your plan has more than 100 participants, you will typically be responsible for contracting and paying for a plan audit through an independent public accounting firm.

You can learn more about audit requirements and details here.

Where to find the Form 5500 filed by Guideline

Copies of recent and prior year Form 5500 filings are available in the Resource Library of your Guideline administrator dashboard.

All Form 5500 filings are also searchable on the Department of Labor’s website, Form 5500/5500-SF Filing Search.

How to learn more about Form 5500

You can find additional information about Form 5500 in our FAQ or the IRS website.

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