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Form 5500 Filing Requirements


Guest Gibson
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We received a private letter ruling that our plans are governmental plans under 414(d). However, for various reasons, we may withdraw our request to the DOL that our plans are governmental under ERISA Title I. If we are governmental for purposes of 414(d), but not for ERISA Title I, do we have to file a 5500 with the DOL. My impression is no, but I cannot confirm this. Help!!

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Hmm, in theory this is not supposed to happen, because the IRS and DOL definitions of "governmental plan" are supposed to be identical. However, as you point out, the different agencies may interpret the same requirements differently.

The Department of Labor Form 5500 requirement would in theory be governed by ERISA Title I, not the Internal Revenue Code. However, depending on your willingness to take an aggressive approach, you might use the IRS private ruling as a basis for not filing a Form 5500 with either IRS or DOL. Indeed, you might want to check back and see whether the private letter ruling was cleared with DOL; most of the ones which concern common issues are. In any event, it would appear to be difficult for DOL to impose penalties for nonfiling of the Form 5500, since those penalties apply only if there is no "reasonable cause" for the nonfiling, if the IRS had held the plan to be governmental.

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Employee benefits legal resource site

The opinions of my postings are my own and do not necessarily represent my law firm's position, strategies, or opinions. The contents of my postings are offered for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. A visit to this board or an exchange of information through this board does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should consult directly with an attorney for individual advice regarding your particular situation. I am not your lawyer under any circumstances.

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Guest Ralph Amadio

Our clients annually receive requests for 5500 filings from DOL even though all of the agencies are clearly governments and the plans clearly governmental. We annually write to both the service and DOL to remind them that no filing is necessary. I tend to believe that DOL would very much like to be in an enforcement position over any governmental plan they could convince to accept their demand for reporting. In California there is a statutory provision that allows a local government to utilize an ERISA plan. We have warned governmental clients not to comply with ERISA filing requirements, and have moved to delete plan language relative to Title I.

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