The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has revised the Form 5500-series returns for 2015 to include certain Internal Revenue Code compliance questions.  A Form 5500 must generally be filed for qualified retirement plans as well as any welfare benefit plan that covered at least 100 participants as of the beginning of the plan year.  The new questions are primarily, but not exclusively, directed at qualified retirement plans.  For the 2015 plan year, answering the new questions is optional but strongly encouraged.

Optional Compliance Questions

Below is a list of the new questions.  In order to help plan sponsors answer these questions, the IRS released corresponding FAQs

  • Did the plan trust incur unrelated business taxable income during the plan year?
  • Were in-service distributions made during the plan year?
  • What is the name of the trustee or custodian?
  • What is the trustee’s or custodian’s telephone number?
  • Is the plan a 401(k) plan?
  • If the plan is a 401(k) plan, does the plan satisfy the nondiscrimination requirements for employee deferrals and employer matching contributions through a design-based safe harbor method or through ADP/ACP testing?
  • If the ADP/ACP test is used, did the 401(k) plan perform testing using the “current year testing method” for non-highly compensated employees?
  • Which method is used by the plan to satisfy the coverage requirements under section 410(b)?
  • Does the plan satisfy coverage and nondiscrimination tests by combining the plan with any other plans under the permissive aggregation rules?
  • Has the plan been timely amended for all required tax law changes?
  • What is the date that the last plan amendment/restatement for the required tax law changes was adopted and is the tax law change pursuant to the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA), the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, or GATT, USERRA, SBJPA, and TRA?
  • If the plan is a pre-approved master and prototype or volume submitter that is subject to a favorable IRS opinion or advisory letter, what is the date of that letter and what is the letter’s serial number?
  • If the plan is an individually-designed plan with a favorable determination letter from the IRS, what is the date of the last favorable determination letter?
  • Is the plan maintained in a U.S. territory (i.e. Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or the U.S. Virgin Islands)? 

Lastly, the IRS has clarified that for multiple-employer plans these questions should generally be answered at the plan level, not at the participating-employer level.