Federal agencies have tried to find a middle ground in the battle over how benefit plans should report the cost of bundled and unbundled services.
Officials with the Employee Benefits Security Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. have included the plan service cost reporting rules in the newly released 2009 Form 5500 series forms.
Sponsors of most benefit plans over a minimum size use Form 5500 series forms to report on their activities to EBSA, to the IRS, and, in the case of defined benefit plans, to the PBGC.
The agencies have revised the forms to incorporate changes required by the Pension Protection Act of 2006, streamline the filing process, and shift employers toward an electronic-only filing environment.
The changes will affect 800,000 pension and welfare plans with 150 million participants and $4.3 trillion in assets.
The new form rules take effect Jan. 15, 2008, but, in most cases, will not affect the forms plans file until plan years starting on or after Jan. 1, 2009, officials say in a preamble to the revised forms published in the Federal Register.
The version released today is based on a proposal published in July 2006 and a supplemental notice published in December 2006.
The revisions will create a new, 2-page version of Form 5500, Form 5500-SF, for small plans that hold only easily valued assets, and they will require plan sponsors to file annual returns electronically for all information other than information required only by the IRS.
Because the IRS does not have the authority to make taxpayers file tax returns electronically, taxpayers will have to use a different method to file the IRS-only information.
The revisions also will require sponsors of 403(b) nonprofit employer retirement plans governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act to provide annual reports similar to those provided by other ERISA plans, and it will require employers to provide a list of insurers that have failed to provide compensation breakdowns and other information necessary to file complete annual returns.