Electronic Signatures for Forms 5500 and 5500-SF Mandatory Jan. 1

December 21, 2011 – 9:08 am | By John Iekel | 2 comments

Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, Forms 5500 and 5500-SF must have electronic signatures. The consequences of filing without them are serious: it will result in a form not being processed at all, and could result in penalties being imposed on the plan.

Forms 5500 and 5500-SF that have no electronic signature will be given a filing status of “unprocessable”; forms that have an invalid electronic signature will be given the status “processing stopped.”

Employers, plan sponsors or plan administrators must electronically sign a Form 5500 or Form 5500-SF before they submit the form to the IRS and Department of Labor (DOL). Any individual who e-signs an original or amended return must have a valid EFAST2 user identification and personal identification number. A signer may need to register and obtain new or modified EFAST2 credentials if an electronic signature is rejected by the online filing system.

The forms may be signed by an authorized plan service provider (APSP) as well. APSPs that e-sign new or amended forms must do the following:

  • have specific written authorization from the plan administrator,
  • have the plan administrator manually sign a paper copy of the completed new or amended form, and
  • attach a PDF copy of the first two pages of the manually signed new or amended form to the filing (DOL will include the image of the manual signature in their online database.)

What You Should Do
Plan sponsors, plan administrators and employers should check the form’s filing status for error messages and make signature corrections if they are necessary. If the filing status is “unprocessable” and the filing didn’t have an electronic signature, then electronically sign and re-submit the original filing.

If the filing status is “processing stopped” and the filed form had an invalid electronic signature, then electronically sign and submit an amended filing. Here's the text from the government.

Employee Plans News -
December 20, 2011 – Fixing Problems with Electronic Signatures for 5500 Series Returns

A plan sponsor/employer or the plan administrator must electronically sign Forms 5500 and 5500-SF before submitting the returns. The forms may be signed by an authorized plan service provider using the additional “e-signature option.” The electronic filing system will reject forms not properly signed, potentially resulting in penalties for the plan.
Starting January 1, 2012, Forms 5500 and 5500-SF that have:

  • no electronic signature will receive a filing status of “unprocessable.” or
  • an invalid electronic signature will receive a filing status of “processing stopped.”
Authorized Service Providers e-signing new or amended forms must:
  • have specific written authorization from the plan administrator,
  • have the plan administrator manually sign a paper copy of the completed new or
    amended form, and
  • attach a PDF copy of the first two pages of the manually signed new or amended
    form to the filing (DOL will include the image of the manual signature in
    their online database.)

Check the return’s filing status and make signature corrections

  • “Unprocessable” and the filing didn’t have an electronic signature, electronically sign
    and re-submit the original filing.
  • “Processing Stopped” and the filed form had an invalid electronic signature,
    electronically sign and submit an amended filing.

Amending returns

Follow the Form 5500 instructions to electronically amend a previously filed return. Keep a copy of the manually signed Form 5500 or 5500-SF for the plan’s records.

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  1. [...] this article for information about the required use of electronic signatures when filing the Form [...]

  2. By ERISA Wonk Welfare Benefits ERISA Compliance on December 23, 2011 at 10:39 am

    [...] December 21, 2011 – 9:08 am | By John Iekel | Smart HR Manager Categories: Form 5500. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment [...]

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