Form 8955-SSA (Annual Registration Statement Identifying Separated Participants With Deferred Vested Benefits) and Instructions (2019); Publication 4810 (Specifications for Electronic Filing of Form 8955-SSA, Annual Registration Statement Identifying Separated Participants With Deferred Vested Benefits) (updated Dec. 19, 2019)
Instructions for Form 8955-SSA
The IRS has released Form 8955-SSA for 2019, along with its separate Instructions. Form 8955-SSA, which can be filed in either paper or electronic format, is used to report certain information relating to separated plan participants with vested benefits that have not been distributed. Filers who submit at least 250 returns of any type with the IRS, including Forms W-2 and 1099, during the calendar year that includes the first day of the plan year, generally must file Form 8955-SSA electronically. Electronic filings of Form 8955-SSA use the IRS’s FIRE (filing information returns electronically) system and must follow the specifications set out in Publication 4810, which has also recently been updated. Only limited changes have been made to these documents.
Form 8955-SSA. No substantive changes were made to Form 8955-SSA for 2019, but the form has been revised to clarify that full Social Security numbers must be provided for each listed individual.
Instructions for Form 8955-SSA. The instructions highlight certain penalties under Code § 6652 that were increased by the 2020 appropriations legislation (see our Checkpoint article). For failures to file Form 8955-SSA (including failures to include all required participants), the penalty has increased to $10 per unreported participant multiplied by the number of days the failure continued, up to a maximum of $50,000. The penalty for failure to file a notification of change of plan status, or a change in the name or address of the plan administrator, also increased to $10 per day, with a maximum of $10,000. The instructions have also been revised to specify that the full nine-digit Social Security number—and not just the last four digits—must be given for each reported participant.
Publication 4810. Compared to the final 2018 version of this publication (updated April 25, 2019), the December 2019 version updates the FIRE system availability calendar, adds a new definition of “deferred vested participants,” revises the discussion of Form 4419 (Application for Filing Returns Electronically (FIRE)), sets the maximum acceptable file size for submissions, and makes various other clarifications and technical revisions.
EBIA Comment: The Form 8955-SSA instructions indicate that a filer will be treated as not having filed at all if paper forms are submitted when an electronic filing is required. Consequently, paper filers must take care to confirm that they are not subject to an electronic filing requirement. If electronic filing is required but it poses an undue economic hardship, filers may be able to obtain a waiver of the electronic filing requirement (see our Checkpoint article). Publication 4810, which provides the detailed specifications for electronic filing, is revised periodically but not necessarily annually. Users should be careful that they have the most current version to avoid difficulties in using the system. For current documents and other resources, users may find it useful to begin at the IRS’s Form 8955-SSA Resources webpage. For more information, see EBIA’s 401(k) Plans manual at Section XXXI.M (“IRS Filings Related to Form 5500”).
Contributing Editors: EBIA Staff.