Penalty relief for late retirement plan returns expires June 2

The one-year IRS pilot program to provide relief to plan administrators who didn’t file required retirement plan returns on Form 5500-EZ expires June 2, 2015. So, anyone wanting to take advantage of the penalty relief program should act fast.

This penalty relief is available to:

  • Certain small business (owner-spouse) plans and plans of business partnerships
  • Certain foreign plans

Small business plans provide retirement benefits only for the owner and the owner’s spouse.

The late filing penalty for 5500-EZs is $25 per day, up to a maximum of $15,000 per return. A business being assessed the maximum penalty for four years’ worth of unfiled returns could pay as much as $60,000 in penalties if it were not for this pilot program.

Under the program, no penalty or other payment is required to be paid for late filing. The applicant must include a complete Form 5500 Series Annual Return/Report, including all required schedules and attachments, for each year that the applicant is seeking penalty relief.

All of the delinquent 5500s must be sent directly to the IRS. The businesses cannot file through the Department of Labor’s EFAST2 filing system. Filing through the EFAST2 filing system results in returns being processed as they normally would be, with applicable late-filing penalties being assessed.

Plans subject to ERISA are not eligible for this program.

A foreign plan is a retirement plan maintained outside the United States, primarily for nonresident aliens.  A foreign plan is eligible for relief if the employer that maintains the plan is a domestic employer or a foreign employer with income derived from sources within the United States.

At the end of this pilot program, the IRS will consider whether it should be replaced with a permanent one. If a permanent program is established, the IRS will charge businesses a fee to take part in the program.