On July 24, 2019, the Department of Labor (the “DOL”) issued Field Assistance Bulletin 2019-01 (the “Bulletin”), which provides transition relief to multiple employer plans (“MEPs”) that failed to comply with certain annual reporting requirements.
The Bulletin focuses on a Form 5500 reporting requirement added by the Cooperative and Small Employer Charity Pension Flexibility Act, which requires MEPs to report on the Form 5500 all participating employers and an estimate of the percentage of contributions made by participating employers during the plan year. This disclosure requirement first became effective for plan years beginning after December 31, 2013.
The DOL has identified widespread and ongoing failure by MEPs to comply with the above reporting requirement. To that end, the Bulletin provides temporary penalty relief for a MEP that is out of compliance for any or all applicable plan years only if the MEP complies with the reporting requirement for the 2018 tax year. The Bulletin does not require a non-compliant filer to correct prior year filings to take advantage of the transition relief.
Recognizing that the deadline for calendar year plans to file the Form 5500 has passed, the Bulletin provides an automatic extension to MEPs that wish to file or refile in compliance with the transition relief. Accordingly, calendar year filers have until October 15, 2019, to file under this extended deadline. Filers must check the “special extension” box in Part I of the Form 5500 and reference the Bulletin. There is no requirement to submit a Form 5558 (Application for Extension) to secure the extension described by the Bulletin.
The specific instructions for MEP reporting can be found on page 14 of the Form 5500 Instructions for 2018.