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January 31, 2002
Form 5500 On the Way
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Three federal agencies - the U. S. Department of Labor's Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration (PWBA), the Internal Revenue Service, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation - have released information copies of the Form 5500 return/reports, schedules and instructions to be used by employee benefit plans for plan year 2001 filings.

Both the Form 5500 and 5500-EZ for plan year 2001 are essentially unchanged from 2000. Certain changes were made to reflect changes in the law or regulations, to improve forms processing and to clarify the instructions. These include, among other things:

- Addition of a new line item on Schedule I to address the new conditions certain small pension plans must comply with to continue to be eligible for the waiver of the general ERISA requirement that plans be audited annually by an independent qualified public accountant;

- Addition of a new line item on Schedule E regarding payment in redemption of stock held by an ESOP to terminating participants;

- Addition of several new business activity codes and pension feature codes for lines 2 and 8 of the Form 5500; and

- New Form 5500 instructions regarding alternative financial reporting for participant-directed brokerage accounts.

Information copies of the forms, schedules and instructions are available on PWBA's EFAST Web site, linked below. (EFAST stands for "ERISA Filing Acceptance System.") The instructions for Form 5500-EZ will be issued shortly.

The list of approved software vendors on the Efast site will be updated as software is approved for plan year 2001 filings.

Late February 2002 is the target date for the IRS to commence its regular annual mailing of the official 2001 Form 5500 and Form 5500-EZ package to filers. For assistance, filers also can contact PWBA's Help Desk at 1-866-463-3278.


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