FAQs - Form 5500 Annual Report Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program

The Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program (DFVCP) is designed to encourage voluntary compliance with the annual reporting requirements under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The DFVCP gives delinquent plan administrators a way to avoid potentially higher civil penalty assessments by satisfying the program's requirements and voluntarily paying a reduced penalty amount.

Who is Eligible

Eligibility for the DFVCP is limited to plan administrators with Form 5500 filing obligations who comply with the provisions of the program and who have not been notified in writing by the DOL of a failure to file a timely Form 5500 annual report.

Program Criteria

Participation in the DFVCP is a two-part process. First, the plan administrator must file a complete Form 5500 Series Annual Return/Report, including all schedules and attachments, with the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) for each year for which relief is requested. To ensure proper processing, box "D" on the 5500 must be marked and a statement labeled "DFVCP" must be attached. Second, the plan administrator must submit a copy of the 5500, without the schedules and attachments and with the applicable penalty amount, to the DFVCP. The plan administrator is personally liable for the applicable penalty amount, and, therefore, amounts paid under the DFVCP cannot be paid from the assets of an employee benefit plan.

Penalty Structure

"Per day" penalty—The basic penalty under the program is $10 per day for delinquent filings.

"Per filing" cap—The maximum penalty for a single late Form 5500 annual report is $2,000 for a large plan (100 or more participants on the 1st day of the plan year).

"Per plan" cap—The DFVCP also includes a "per plan" cap. This cap is designed to encourage reporting compliance by plan administrators who have failed to file a Form 5500 annual report for a plan for multiple years. The "per plan" cap limits the penalty to $4,000 regardless of the number of late Form 5500 annual reports filed for the plan at the same time. There is no "per administrator" or "per sponsor" cap. If the same person is the plan administrator or plan sponsor of several plans required to file Form 5500 annual reports, the maximum applicable penalty amounts would apply for each plan.

Caution—A plan sponsor that adopts a "wrap" or "mega-wrap" plan retroactively, in order to decrease late Form 5500 filing penalties that would otherwise apply, should proceed with caution. Changing employer sponsored plans should generally be done on a prospective basis only.

Program Participation Procedures

The procedures governing participation in the DFVCP program are intended to make the program easy to use:

  • Plan administrators may use the Form 5500 for the year relief is sought or the most current form available at the time of participation. This option allows administrators to choose the form that is most efficient and least burdensome for their circumstances;
  • Box D of the Form 5500 must be checked and a statement labeled "DFVCP" must be attached;
  • The program conforms to the annual reporting procedures under the computerized ERISA Filing Acceptance System (EFAST); and
  • An online calculator is available to assist filers in computing the penalty.

Additionally, after completing the calculator, located at www.efast.dol.gov, filers may choose to file electronically. However, if filing through the mail is preferred, the FAQs, located at the same site, provide the addresses and detailed information.

Contacts for Additional Information

Questions about the DFVCP should be directed to EBSA by calling 202.693.8360 or www.dol.gov/ebsa. For additional information about the Form 5500 Series, visit the EFAST Internet site at www.efast.dol.gov, or call the EBSA help desk at 1.866.463.3278.

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© 2017 ERISAPros, LLC, All rights reserved. Information on ERISAPros' website, its newsletter, “News & Views,” and its blog, “ERISA Wonk,” is published as a general informational source. Information and articles are general in nature and are not intended to constitute legal or tax advice in any particular matter. Blog posts and comments reflect the personal views of their respective authors - not those of ERISAPros. Transmission of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship. ERISAPros, LLC is not a law firm and is not giving legal or tax advice. It does not warrant and is not responsible for errors or omissions in the content on its website or in its newsletters. ERISA is a complicated and confusing law. Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs), Wrap Plan Documents, and Form 5500s require review and updating by qualified ERISA compliance professionals.


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