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How to administer an ESOP and complete the IRS 5500?

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I suggest you consider joining the ESOP Association of America. They have a committee on ESOP administration. That committee prepares a nice manual on operating an ESOP.

In general, a careful reading of the Form 5500 instructions will give you the information you want. If that is too awful to dive into, Panel Publishers puts out a nice publication on the Form 5500 series which includes examples. Likewise, New England Life has published a book in the past, but I don't know if that would have much ESOP info.

Another way to get some help is to register for freeerisa.com and look at the Form 5500 filings for other ESOP companies. If you join the ESOP Association or similar organization (NCEO, ESCA, FED), each has a member listing so you can identify similar entities. I have to caution you on this approach as I see a lot of Form 5500 filings that are not completed properly.

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I use RIA's Checkpoint, but it is a pay-for-subscription site.

You can subscribe to RIA's Checkpoint online (http://www.RIAhome.com and http://www.RIACheckpoint.com). It offers three levels of pension and benefits libraries, each one of which includes the Form 5500 forms, eform-RS for completing forms, and Compliance Explanations, which details how to complete a Form 5500 for a stock bonus plan or ESOP. Right now, it is offering a30-day free trial to check any of them out (and determine if you really need to buy the product). If you decide to buy, the price is somewhere around $1500 to $3300 per year, depending on the product.

The subscription also would give you several other publications providing pension and benefits analysis, the Code, regs, ERISA and regs, and agency releases.

If you want print, there are Employee Benefits Compliance Coordinator and PPC's 5500 Deskbook, both in looseleaf. Both are available through the same websites.

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