The federal government is asking members of the public for comments on ways to improve the employee benefit plan tax form.[@@]

The U.S. Department of Labor and the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. have submitted the Form 5500 and Schedules forms for review by the Office of Management and Budget.

The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 requires the OMB to conduct regular reviews of the burdens imposed by federal forms and other federal information collection efforts.

The OMB is estimating that more than 860,000 U.S. businesses use the Form 5500 and Schedules forms to file information about their activities with the PBGC, the Labor Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Service.

The collection of information for EBSA takes about 1.9 million hours and costs employers about $664 million, EBSA estimates.

The collection of information for the PBGC takes about 2,373 hours and costs about $1.7 million, according to PBGC estimates.

OMB officials want to hear from employers and benefits advisors about whether the cost and time estimates are accurate.

OMB officials also want to hear about ways to improve the Form 5500 and related schedules.

The OMB is looking for ways to “minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses,” according to a notice that appears today in the Federal Register.

The text of the notice is on the Web at http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/06jun20041800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2004/04-24660.htm