Form 5500-EZ (Annual Return of a One-Participant (Owners/Partners and Their Spouses) Retirement Plan or a Foreign Plan) and Instructions (2018); Form 8955-SSA (Annual Registration Statement Identifying Separated Participants with Deferred Vested Benefits) and Instructions (2018)
Instructions for Form 8955-SSA
The IRS has released Forms 5500-EZ and 8955-SSA for 2018, along with their separate Instructions. Form 5500-EZ is filed with the IRS, in paper format only, for one-participant retirement plans with year-end assets exceeding $250,000 and foreign retirement plans. 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, and must file their annual return electronically on Form 5500-SF in lieu of Form 5500-EZ.) Electronic filings of Form 8955-SSA must follow the specifications set out in Publication 4810, which has also been updated. Here are brief highlights of the 2018 forms:
Form 5500-EZ. Form 5500-EZ is largely unchanged, but it has been renamed to mention partner plans and foreign plans. As explained in the instructions, the term “one-participant plan” also includes plans (other than ESOPs) that cover one or more partners (or partners and their spouses) and do not provide benefits to any other persons. The form is also used by foreign plans—i.e., pension plans maintained outside the United States primarily for nonresident aliens by domestic employers or by certain foreign employers with income from sources within the United States. Only minor modifications were made to the instructions to Form 5500-EZ. The plan characteristic code used to complete Line 8 of the form for a pre-approved plan has been redefined to reflect changes in the pre-approved plan program made by Rev. Proc. 2017-41 (see our Checkpoint article). The address used for submissions by private delivery services has been updated, and foreign plans without an EIN are now directed to consult the instructions for Form SS-4 (Application for Employer Identification Number (EIN)).
Form 8955-SSA. No substantive changes were made to Form 8955-SSA for 2018. Minor changes to the instructions for Form 8955-SSA include the addition of a reference to affiliated service groups in the definition of a single employer plan, updates to the address for private deliveries, and a new description of the filers eligible for paper filing because they qualify for the DOL’s Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program.
EBIA Comment: The instructions for both forms 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 affirm 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). Electronic filers are reminded that the electronic versions of these forms use entirely different filing systems. Electronic filings on Form 5500-SF (in lieu of Form 5500-EZ) are made using the DOL’s EFAST2 filing system. Electronic filings of Form 8955-SSA, however, are made using the IRS’s FIRE (filing information returns electronically) filing system. For more information, see EBIA’s 401(k) Plans manual at Section XXXI (“Plan Administration: Annual Form 5500 Reports and SARs”).
Contributing Editors: EBIA Staff.