A Little More Time to Consider DOL’s Big 5500 Proposal

By Nevin Adams • September 21, 2016 • 0 Comments
Plan sponsors and TPAs just got what is probably a much-appreciated time extension from the Department of Labor (DOL).

The DOL has announced that it is extending the deadline for comments on the proposed Form 5500 changes to Dec. 5, two months later than the original deadline of Oct. 4.

In July, the DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, the IRS and the Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) announced that they were seeking public comments on proposed revisions (in a 700+ page proposal) that the agencies say will “modernize and improve the Form 5500 Annual Return/Report.” The agencies said that they were seeking to gather more information — and for that information to be more “mineable.” And they wanted those changes in place for the 2019 plan year filings.

In a Sept. 13 comment letter, the American Retirement Association asked for a 105-day extension of the comment period. That comment letter explained that the 75-day comment period originally provided coincides with the period during which practitioners are occupied with the completion of the 2015 Form 5500 for calendar year plans (where the due date has been extended, a very common practice), preventing those with specialized knowledge that would otherwise be applied to consideration of the proposal from focusing on that review. Additionally, it was set during a period where many service providers are applying the staff and technical resources that would otherwise be applied to analyzing the proposal to the more immediate need to review and implement the DOL’s final “conflicted advice” regulation.

“The changes being proposed are perhaps the most significant changes to the 5500 form that have been made since its inception,” Craig P. Hoffman, general counsel for the ARA, told the delegates at the NAPA DC Fly-In Forum Sept. 20. The proposal would constitute a significant increase in the information provided along with the Form 5500, and the proposed format could be a significant undertaking. Hence, the additional time frame to review and comment thoughtfully on the proposal is important — even if you aren’t the one who has to pull it all together.