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Peter Gulia

Preparer information on Form 5500

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The argument I've heard for not including the preparer information is that doing so will give auditors information about possible audit targets if they have found problems with another client of the same preparer.

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Is it also possible that this factor could cut the other way? Might a government agency consider the fact that a plan gets services from a provider that the agency recognizes as a quality service provider as a factor that reduces the plan's risk?

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I think it is a good thing. There is still a lot of "junk" out there. I doubt the payroll providers that provide TPA services will want to put there name on it.

I will walk in the same shoes as the plan sponsor as I know I do a very good job for my clients.

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I guess I'm just an old cynic but I see no good coming from this.

Lately a gimmick has been for companies to scan the 5500 universe and look for plans that don't have 2F (an ERISA 404© plan) and send a letter scaring the employer into thinking they aren't "compliant".

I can see a whole new level of this deception: You are not compliant. Evidently, your preparer ABC company isn't doing its job.

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slightly off topic but in response to bg5150's comment on companies scanning 5500's and sending out scare letters, I have learend that there is a tool that seems to literally scan in a 5500 and review it for inaccuracies. Can someone guide me in the direction of who provides this tool?

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Along this same topic. I have heard of a tool (not sure who sells it or who i selling the results) that searches the 5500 database looking for signatures, so that if as a TPA we signed the return for the client (using the DOL's authorization procedure and our credentials), and those results are then being used to potentially 'poach' another TPA's clients. Am I just naieve in thinking that this is wrong somehow? Are other TPA's refusing to use the DOL's authroization procedure and not sign the 5500 on behalf of a client because of this?

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Anyone can download the 5500 data sets directly from the DOL. There is a link to their electronic FOIA webpage on the 5500 search page.

With the 5500 software we use, the DOL database apparently shows the name of the person in our office who submitted the filing as the signer. Our clients regularly get letters from TPAs addressed to one of us using their address.

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Just participated in a 5500 Webinar with 1,100 people attending and they polled the question about placing the name on the paid preparer:

a.) Plannning on puttting our name in the paid preparer

b.) Not going to put name in the plan preparer

c.) Not sure

The results were: (giver or take)

a.) 2%

b.) 86%

c.) 12%

very surprised on the results and the moderator recommended not putting it on there.

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