Washington (Oct. 9, 2002) -- The Internal Revenue Service has teamed up with the U.S. Department of Labor to make sure all employee benefit plans comply with their annual report filing obligations.

The Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration (PWBA) and the IRS have embarked on a joint project to check employee benefit plans with their annual return/report (Form 5500) filing obligations under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the Internal Revenue Code. Failure to do so may result in significant monetary penalties.

Under the project, the agencies are conducting research of various databases to identify potential non-filers. Beginning in December, the agencies will mail letters of inquiry to those identified as potential non-filers.

ERISA requires most private-sector plans to file the Form 5500 annually. Plan administrators who fail or refuse to comply with ERISA’s requirement may face civil penalties of up to $1,100 per day for each report. Likewise, the IRS may assess penalties of $25 per day (up to $15,000) for failure to timely file returns for certain pension and profit sharing plans.

The agencies, however, reminded delinquent filers of the availability of a program to assist plan administrators in filing delinquent reports. The Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program was established in April 1995 to encourage plan administrators to file overdue annual reports by paying reduced penalties. In addition, the IRS has stated that it will not assess penalties on delinquent filers who satisfy the requirements of the DFVC Program. For more information, contact PWBA at (202) 693-8360 or IRS customer service at (877) 829-5500.

-- Electronic Accountant Newswire staff

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