May 23, 2015


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May 20, 2015

Department of Labor Seeks Missed Filings for Employee Welfare Benefit Plans

Have you received an email from the Department of Labor recently? If not, you may. The Department has recently begun a program to identify whether employee “welfare benefit plans” (typically, group health plans) have filed a Form 5500 Annual Return/Report as required by Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). This program includes emails to thousands of plan sponsors.

Generally, a Form 5500 Annual Report must be filed by all employee welfare benefit plans with 100 or more participants. However, no filing is required for those plans with fewer than 100 participants that are either fully insured or self-insured (that is, where the benefits are paid directly out of the sponsor’s assets).

The Department’s Office of the Chief Accountant (OCA), the office charged with monitoring whether employee benefit plans comply with the annual reporting requirements of ERISA, has recently commenced a program to identify whether certain employee health or welfare benefit plans have filed a Form 5500.

To identify which welfare plans may have failed to file this required Form, the OCA has begun sending to Plan Administrators a “Request for Clarification.” These requests are being sent to Plan Administrators who have filed a Form 5500 for an employee retirement plan, and they request that the Plan Administrator tell the OCA whether a filing has been completed for the employer’s welfare benefit plans. The goal of the request is to educate Plan Administrators who are not aware of the Form 5500 requirements for welfare plans and to afford them the opportunity to participate in the Department of Labor’s Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program (DFVCP).

The DFVCP allows plans which have failed to file a Form 5500 by the deadline (generally the last day of the seventh month after the close of the plan year) to file the Form, provide required information and pay a reduced penalty. Under the DFVCP, the fee for a delinquent filing is $10 per day for each day a filing is late; however, this amount is capped at a total of $2,000 for a single filing for a large plan (generally defined as greater than 100 participants), and $750 for small plans that are subject to the filing requirement. The reduction in fees can be significant for plans which have failed to file multiple Forms 5500 as the fee is capped ($4,000 for a large welfare benefit plan and $1,500 for small plans), regardless of the number of Forms filed under the program.

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About this Author



Ben Wells is a Partner in the Corporate Department and is Chair of the firm's Tax, Benefits and Wealth Planning Practice Group. He leads the firm's Fringe Benefits Committee and is a member of its Practice Management Council. Over a period of more than 25 years, Ben has advised and counseled clients on a full range of issues relating to employee benefits and executive compensation.

Ben works with Fortune 500 companies, privately held employers, not-for-profit employers, state and local governmental entities, health care providers, private equity investors,...

Nicole Hanna, Corporate Attorney, Dinsmore Law Firm

Nicole is a member of the Corporate Department. She has experience handling a variety of corporate and financial issues, including tax consequences of early retirement withdraws, tax implications for commercial transactions, estate tax matters and state and federal tax controversies. She also has experience in a variety of domestic relations issues, including advising on the division of student loan debt in a domestic tax matter. Prior to joining Dinsmore, she practiced at Ralph A. Kerns & Associates, and previously served as a judicial extern to Judge William L. Mallory, Jr. in the...