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News Release

EBSA Press Release: Labor Department Releases New Form 5500 Submitted to OMB for Approval [06/23/1998]

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

For more information call: (202) 219-8211

The Department of Labor, Internal Revenue Service, and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation today submitted the new Form 5500 to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act. This submission and public release is part of the agencies' commitment to make information about the new forms available to plans and their service providers at the earliest opportunity.

The submission to OMB follows the completion of the agencies' evaluation of more than 60 public comments and a day of testimony from employer groups, employee representatives, financial institutions, service organizations and others, on the form streamlining proposal that was published in the Federal Register in September 1997. Following OMB's review and approval of the new data collection, the final computer scannable forms that will be mandatory for 1999 plan year filings and electronic filing options will be developed and published in the Federal Register.

"The implementation of streamlined reporting forms in conjunction with our new forms processing system is a significant step forward in reducing administrative burdens and costs for Form 5500 filers and the federal government," said PWBA Assistant Secretary Olena Berg.

The Form 5500 Annual Return/Report is used by more than 800,000 pension, welfare and fringe benefit plans that file information with the federal government. The agencies published a proposal in September 1997 to replace the current Form 5500, Form 5500-C and Form 5500-R with one Form 5500 intended to streamline the report and the methods by which it is filed and processed. The proposal was patterned after tax returns familiar to individuals and corporate taxpayers a simple, one-page main form with basic information and a checklist that guides each filer to the more detailed schedules that are applicable to the filer's specific type of plan.

The new Form 5500 released today retains that structure and attempts to strike a balance in response to public suggestions for further modifications, by making adjustments to the forms and instructions proposed in September 1997 where appropriate and consistent with the purposes of the Form 5500 and the objectives of the streamlining project.

The department is simultaneously developing a new computerized system to process the Form 5500 (the ERISA Filing Acceptance System or "EFAST") to reduce government and filer costs associated with filing, receiving and processing annual reports. The new computerized system will simplify and expedite the receipt and processing of the Form 5500 by relying on computer scannable forms and electronic filing technologies.

In response to requests from many public commentators, the agencies announced earlier this year a delay in the scheduled implementation of the new Form 5500 until 1999 plan year filings to give plans and their service providers adequate time to make adjustments in their recordkeeping and information management systems.

The agencies are also publishing two separate Federal Register notices: one giving notice of the 30-day opportunity to submit comments to OMB on the agencies' new Form 5500 submission; and the other formally announcing the agencies' intention to request OMB approval to extend the existing Form 5500 Series for one more year to cover 1998 plan year filings.

This information and a hyperlink to the forms and instructions as submitted to OMB is available on PWBA's Internet site at Copies of an "In Brief" summary of the new Form 5500 is available from PWBA's toll-free publications hotline at 1-800-998-7542 . 

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Employee Benefits Security Administration
June 23, 1998
Release Number