IRS Issues Hardship Waiver Guidelines for E-Filing

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Sept. 14 — Retirement plan administrators that want an economic hardship waiver of certain electronic filing requirements now have procedures for making the request.

Revenue Procedure 2015-47 sets out guidelines that are specifically for plan sponsors that aren't able to meet the electronic filing requirement for Form 8955-SSA, Annual Registration Statement Identifying Separated Participants With Deferred Vested Benefits, or Form 5500-EZ, Annual Return of One-Participant (Owners and Their Spouses) Retirement Plan, the Internal Revenue Service said in the guidance, released Sept. 14.

The IRS and Treasury Department issued final rules (T.D. 9695; RIN 1545-BL54) in September 2014 stating that employee retirement plan administrators filing at least 250 returns in a calendar year will be required to submit Form 5500 series annual reports and other plan-related documents using electronic filing methods or other magnetic media. 

According to the final rules, the IRS can waive the requirement to file electronically “in cases of undue economic hardship.” However, the IRS said in the rules that waivers will be granted only for “exceptional cases.”

In the new guidance, the IRS said that in determining whether to approve a request, it will consider a filer's ability to file the forms “without incurring an undue economic hardship.” Waivers generally will be granted if the filer demonstrates that an “undue economic hardship would occur by complying with the electronic filing requirement, including a demonstration of any incremental costs the filer would incur in filing electronically rather than using a paper form,” the guidance said.

A separate written request must be filed for each plan that is in need of a waiver, the IRS said. The guidance also details what information filers will have to include in each written request. The IRS said filers should submit requests at least 45 days before the due date of the forms.

Rev. Proc. 2015-47 is effective Sept. 28 and is scheduled to appear in Internal Revenue Bulletin 2015-39, dated the same day.

A copy of Revenue Procedure 2015-47 is at