Employer Annual Filing Required

Developed jointly by the IRS, Department of Labor, and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the Form 5500 series included forms employers use to meet their annual reporting requirements under Title I and Title IV of ERISA (the Employee Retirement Income Security Act) and under the Internal Revenue Code.

The Department of Labor (DOL), Internal Revenue Service, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation jointly developed the Form 5500 Series so employee benefit plans could utilize the Form 5500 Series forms to satisfy annual reporting requirements under Title I and Title IV of ERISA and under the Internal Revenue Code.

The series is an important compliance, research, and disclosure tool for the DOL, a disclosure document for plan participants and beneficiaries, and a source of information and data for use by other federal agencies, Congress, and the private sector in assessing employee benefit, tax, and economic trends and policies.

The series is part of ERISA's overall reporting and disclosure framework, which is intended to ensure employee benefit plans are operated and managed in accordance with certain prescribed standards, and that participants, beneficiaries, and regulators are provided or have access to sufficient information to protect the rights and benefits of participants and beneficiaries under employee benefit plans.

There are three Form 5500s:

  1. Form 5500: (100+ participants at beginning of plan year)
  2. Form 5500-SF (Short Form): Small business benefit plans (< 100 participants at beginning of plan year and not exempt from filing)
  3. Form 5500-EZ: One participant (Owner and Spouse) retirement plans
Groups that have 100 or more employees are generally required to file a Form 5500.  Most exemptions apply to groups with less than 100 employees. The Form 5500 instructions cover who must file, when to file, filing electronically, and what to file.


Visit the DOL website for a chart showing all forms in the Form 5500 series, who files, where to file, and additional tips.