Agencies Propose Modernized Forms for Benefit Plan Reporting

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By Sean Forbes

July 11 — Modernizing and improving the annual reporting forms filed by private-sector employee benefit plans is the goal behind proposed revisions issued by the three federal agencies that regulate benefit plans.

The Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation in a 777-page proposed rule (RIN:120-AB63) issued July 11 said the revisions are necessary because the annual return/report forms—known as Form 5500—haven't kept pace with market developments and changes to employee benefit laws.

The current Form 5500 is outdated and misses information that prevents the three agencies from effectively protecting employee retirement and health benefits, the agencies said.

The DOL separately also published a related notice of proposed changes (RIN:1210-AB63) to its annual reporting regulations under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

One of the key proposed changes is to require more granular financial investment data, especially where plan sponsors must fill out what assets their plans are invested in.

The Form 5500 is the primary source of information about the operations, funding and investments of private-sector, employment-based pension and welfare benefit plans in the U.S. There are an estimated 2.3 million health plans, a similar number of other welfare plans and nearly 681,000 pension plans.

The proposals are scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on July 21. Comments are due by Oct. 4.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sean Forbes in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at

For More Information

The proposed rules are at and

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