The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and provisions of the Internal Revenue Code require certain employee benefit plans, welfare benefit plans, and direct filing entities (DFEs) to submit information annually to the Government regarding their size, funding, operations, and other characteristics. To report this information, these plans must use the Form 5500 series. The for 5500 series includes the Form 5500 Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan and the Form 5500-SF Short Form Annual Return Report of Small Employee Benefit Plan, which are the elements of the series that can be filed using the EFAST2 system.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) began using its ERISA Filing Acceptance System (EFAST) for Form 5500 filing back in 2000. Since then, minor form changes became a common occurrence to the industry, which conducted its business as usual. On Jan. 1, 2010, however, EFAST2 went live. By requiring electronic filing of all Form 5500's, EFAST2 changes the way virtually all preparers process Form 5500. EFAST 2 introduces many changes, including the elimination of some schedules and the addition of new forms.
For plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2009, the DOL will require retirement and welfare plans to file their annual reports, Form 5500 and its schedules to be filed electronically under the computerized EFAST2.
The Department of Labor, Internal Revenue Service and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) created the EFAST system to streamline the forms and the methods by which they are filed and processed. The transformation from paper filing to electronic filing will result in significant changes in procedures. To ease the transition, preparers need to familiarize themselves with the new electronic filing system. Electronic filing will be conducted over the Internet rather than via a modem. Even if you filed electronically in the past, your credentials will no longer be valid. You need to apply for new EFAST2 credentials.
Check the DOL web site for additional information about the forms and schedules concerning the EFAST2 processing system, electronic filing, and software.