EBSA Announces E-Signature Option for Form 5500

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The U.S. Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration announced that the EFAST2 electronic filing system for Forms 5500 and 5500-SF employee benefit plan annual reports has a new e-signature option. This option is designed to simplify the electronic filing process, especially for small businesses that use service providers to complete and file their annual reports.

Effective Jan. 1, 2010, retirement and welfare plans required to file an annual Form 5500 or 5500-SF must file electronically using the department's new EFAST2 electronic filing system. More than one million Form 5500 reports are filed each year to satisfy annual reporting requirements under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and the Internal Revenue Code. EFAST2 is designed to improve the receipt and processing of the Forms 5500 and 5500-SF.

Under the new e-signature option, service providers that manage the filing process for plans can get their own signing credentials and submit the electronic Form 5500 or 5500-SF for the plan. The service provider must confirm that it has specific written authorization from the plan administrator to submit the plan's electronic filing. In addition, the administrator must manually sign a paper copy of the completed filing, and the service provider must attach a PDF copy of the manually signed Form 5500 or 5500-SF as an attachment to the electronic filing submitted to EFAST2.

The service provider must communicate to the plan administrator any inquiries received from EFAST2, the Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service or the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. regarding the filing, and inform the plan administrator that, by electing to use this option, the image of the plan administrator's manual signature will be included with the rest of the annual return/report posted by the Labor Department on the Internet for public disclosure.

The additional e-signature option will be available in the government-sponsored IFILE application beginning May 13, 2010. Filers using EFAST2 approved software to complete and file the Form 5500 or Form 5500-SF should contact their software vendors for information regarding availability of this new e-signature option as part of their software.

The current EFAST2 frequently asked questions have been updated, and a new fact sheet and set of frequently asked questions have been developed to help small businesses understand this new option. Those materials are available through http://www.efast.dol.gov. Assistance with the EFAST2 system and the Forms 5500 and 5500-SF is also available toll-free at 866-463-3278.

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