The U.S. Department of Labor, Internal Revenue Service, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation jointly developed the Form 5500 Series so employee benefit plans could utilize the Form 5500 Series forms to satisfy annual reporting requirements under Title I and Title IV of ERISA and under the Internal Revenue Code.

The Form 5500 Series is an important compliance, research, and disclosure tool for the Department of Labor, a disclosure document for plan participants and beneficiaries, and a source of information and data for use by other Federal agencies, Congress, and the private sector in assessing employee benefit, tax, and economic trends and policies. The Form 5500 Series is part of ERISA's overall reporting and disclosure framework, which is intended to assure that employee benefit plans are operated and managed in accordance with certain prescribed standards and that participants and beneficiaries, as well as regulators, are provided or have access to sufficient information to protect the rights and benefits of participants and beneficiaries under employee benefit plans.

Electronic Filing Requirement

All Form 5500 Annual Returns/Reports of Employee Benefit Plan and all Form 5500-SF Short Form Annual Returns/Reports of Small Employee Benefit Plan and any required schedules and attachments must be completed and filed electronically using EFAST2-approved third-party software or using IFILE. For more information on completing and filing forms electronically through EFAST2, see the EFAST2 FAQs and publications.

You cannot submit a Schedule SSA (Annual Registration Statement for Deferred Vested Participants) to EFAST2, even for delinquent or amended filings for plan years prior to 2009. Form 8955-SSA, Annual Registration Statements for Deferred Vested Participants must instead be filed directly with the Internal Revenue Service. For information on how to submit an annual registration statement for deferred vested participants, see IRS Retirement Plans Community - Form 5500 Corner.

Beginning January 1, 2021, you can file the Form 5500-EZ electronically through EFAST2; you can no longer use the Form 5500-SF to electronically file “one-participant” plan and foreign plan annual returns. One-participant plans or foreign plans must file the Form 5500-EZ.  If you are not subject to the IRS e-filing requirements, however, you may file a Form 5500-EZ on paper with the IRS. See the Form 5500-EZ Instructions for more information.