Form 5500 FAQ

What is the purpose of Form 5500?

It is the required annual reporting for certain pension and welfare benefit plans and contains information about a plan's financial conditions, investments and operations. Profit sharing and 401(k) plans are examples of pension plans. The form is co-sponsored by the DOL, IRS, and Pension Benefits Guarantee Corporation.

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How do I start the electronic filing process?

  • Sign in to Our Website to Access Our Retirement Services Employer Website
    If you have never accessed, call 800-472-0072 for your 16-digit registration code.
  • Obtain Signing Credentials from the DOL
    Register for your PIN through the EFAST2 DOL website. Follow the instructions and select "Filing Signer" as your User Type.
  • Verify ERISA Bond Coverage for Your Plan
    If you have an ERISA fidelity bond through Paychex Insurance Agency, your 5500 will be automatically updated. Otherwise, you must provide bond information on our website. If your return is missing bond information, it may be rejected by the DOL.

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What is a Fidelity Bond and is it required for my retirement plan?

ERISA requires every plan fiduciary and anyone else who handles or has authority to handle plan assets to be covered by a bond. A Fidelity Bond is an insurance policy that names the plan as the insured party and covers anyone who handles or has authority to handle plan assets. The required amount of bond coverage is the lesser of 10% of plan assets at the beginning of the plan year or $500,000.

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When must the Form 5500 and applicable schedules be filed with the Department of Labor (DOL)?

Generally, the form 5500 and applicable schedules must be filed by the last day of the seventh month following the close of the plan year. For calendar year plans, this date is July 31. NOTE: If the filing deadline falls on a Saturday, Sunday or a federal holiday, the due date is the following business day.

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Does Paychex file my Form 5500 and applicable schedules with the DOL?

No. The client (i.e. plan sponsor) will receive an electronic signature-ready Form 5500 with the applicable schedules via the Retirement Services website. The client is required to review the information for accuracy and file the Form 5500 with the DOL by the filing due date. Beginning in 2010, the filing procedure has changed and the DOL will no longer accept paper filings. Filings must be transmitted to the DOL electronically. This requires the client to apply for a Client ID and PIN with the DOL. See: Where do I file the Form 5500 and applicable schedules?

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Are there penalties for failure to file a return with the DOL?

The DOL and IRS may impose penalties or fines if the plan sponsor fails, or refuses, to file a complete return or if the form is rejected for insufficient information. Additional penalties may be incurred for willful violations, which include making false statements. Filings will be rejected by the DOL if required questions are left unanswered.

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Who is required to sign and where do I sign?

The Form 5500 must be electronically signed and filed by the plan administrator. In addition the plan administrator must keep a copy of the Form 5500, including schedules and attachments, with all required ink signatures on file as part of the plan's records.

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Where do I file the signed Form 5500 and applicable schedules?

The DOL requires that all Form 5500 annual returns be filed electronically using their ERISA Filing Acceptance System (EFAST2) program. The agency will no longer accept paper filings. This change to an electronic system is intended to create a more streamlined, cost-effective, and efficient process for filing the Form 5500.

NOTE: The electronic filing and signing process does not eliminate the need for the plan administrator to keep a copy of Form 5500, including schedules and attachments, with all required ink signatures on file as part of the plan's records. This change in filing requirement only means that the plan administrator is signing their filing twice, once for the government agencies and then again in ink to be kept in the plan's records; the filing is not sent via traditional mailing services, but electronically.

To help you comply with the new electronic filing requirements, Paychex will provide your annual Form 5500 on our website. You will be able to electronically review, sign, and transmit your return to the DOL using our site; we will no longer provide a paper copy of Form 5500.

Register today for online access to the Retirement Services website. On the site, you can create a new account or add the Retirement Services selection to an existing Paychex FlexSM account. You must have a valid email address and a federal employer identification number (FEIN).

On the Retirement Services website, you can also:

  • View and update plan and participant information.f
  • Determine employees who are eligible to enroll.
  • Obtain forms and reports for operating your plan.
  • Grant access to the site to your accounting professional or financial advisor.
  • Receive answers to questions about your plan.

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How do I file an extension?

Refer to the Department of Labor 5500 Series page for more information.

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How do I get IRS and DOL forms and publications?

IRS forms and publications can be obtained via the IRS' website at or by phone at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-9376). Both options are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. DOL forms and publications can be obtained at or by phone at 800-998-7542.

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What is the Summary Annual Report (SAR)?

The SAR is an ERISA required document that summarizes the information reported on the Form 5500 and schedules. The SAR must be distributed to each participant and their beneficiaries receiving benefits under the plan no later than two months following the Form 5500 filing deadline unless the client filed for an extension, in which case they have until December 15. The SAR notifies participants that they have the right to request a copy of the statement of assets and liabilities of the plan. A copy of Form 5500 and Schedule I would fulfill this request.

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Who do I contact with questions or to learn more about the Form 5500 filing?

For details about electronic Form 5500 filing, visit

If you have questions, please contact us at 800-472-0072, Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. ET, or email us at We appreciate the opportunity to work with you.

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