Annual Retirement Plan Compliance and Reporting Requirements

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NEW YORK—Every sponsor of an employee retirement benefit plan has certain responsibilities, and must take certain actions, to comply with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) and federal income
tax law.

ERISA sets standards of conduct for those who sponsor retirement plans. Generally, in addition to a plan’s sponsor and a “named fiduciary”, any person or entity that holds, manages or has any discretionary authority over the assets of a plan is a “fiduciary”. The attached publication from the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”), entitled Meeting Your Fiduciary Responsibilities, provides an overview of the basic fiduciary responsibilities applicable to retirement plans. Also attached are a DOL discussion about plan fees, and articles entitled Fiduciary Duties and 401(k) Plans and Use of an Administrative Committee to Address Fiduciary Obligations of a Retirement Plan Sponsor. As a business owner or manager, you should review these materials in order to better understand the roles and responsibilities of those involved with the administration of your retirement plan.

In addition, your plan’s administrative or advisory committee meet at least annually to (1) discuss the plan’s operations, including contributions, participation, distributions, and investments; (2) review the performance of the plan’s service providers; (3) review the plan’s documents, including policies and procedures and participant communications; and (4) review legal compliance issues. You may wish to invite your legal counsel, third-party administrator, investment advisor, and/or other key professional advisors to attend your meeting. In any event, you should prepare and retain minutes documenting your committee meeting, and you should seek counsel and guidance from your Plan Counsel and Plan Administrator.

Lastly, an Annual Report/Return (Form 5500) for each plan must be filed with the DOL not later than 7 months after the end of each plan year (or, later, if an extension is obtained in accordance with the DOL’s instructions). Summary Annual Reports generally must be distributed to plan’s participants within 9 months after the end of each plan year.

Click here to download a helpful booklet from the Department of Labor.