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News Release

Labor Department Announces Final New Computer Scannable Form 5500

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Today the Labor Department’s Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration (PWBA), the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published in the Federal Register a notice announcing the final computer scannable formats of the 1999 Form 5500 Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan along with instructions.

PWBA also unveiled a dedicated internet website, to keep the public informed about the latest information on the Form 5500 and electronic processing of the forms under the new ERISA Filing Acceptance System or “EFAST.” The website, which will be continually updated, contains the streamlined Form 5500 and schedules, instructions for filing the forms, software development, a calendar of public meetings and conferences, related publications, and frequently-asked questions.

In Brief — 1999 Form 5500 is a new publication designed to explain the major changes to the Form 5500 and its processing. The publication is available on the EFAST website and through PWBA’s toll free publications hotline, 1-800-998-7542.

Alan D. Lebowitz, Deputy Assistant Secretary for PWBA, called the final Form 5500 “the first installment on the agency’s commitment to make the reporting and disclosure process technologically compatible with today’s climate of doing business.

“The final form has been streamlined into a single form with multiple schedules, thus allowing plans to tailor their filings to include the specific information applicable to them. In addition, over the next few months we will be bringing online the new EFAST system which relies on the latest computer technology to increase the accuracy and speed in processing information filed on the form.”

The new forms are available in two computer scannable formats — machine print and hand print. The machine print version is completed by using a computer and software to enter the data on the Form 5500 and may be filed electronically or by mail. The machine print version has a bar code at the bottom of each page to capture the data in computer readable form. Information on machine print software will be available in late March on the EFAST Web site.

The hand print version of the Form 5500, containing identical questions to the machine print version, uses special paper with green “drop-out ink,” and is completed either by hand or typewriter. These special features enable EFAST to scan the hand and typewritten entries on the form. The hand print form must be filed by mail.

The IRS will start its mailing of the annual Form 5500 package with the hand print forms in late February. Hand print forms also are available by calling the IRS Service Center at 1-800- TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676).

Information copies of both versions of the forms are available on PWBA’s website at and the EFAST website at Forms obtained from the websites, however, cannot be used to file an official Form 5500 report.

U.S. Department of Labor news releases are accessible on the Internet. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the Central Office for Assistive Services and Technology. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call 202.693.7773 or TTY 202.693.7775.

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

Employee Benefits Security Administration
February 3, 2000
Release Number