Under Section 103(g) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ERISA, Multiple Employer Plans (MEPs) are required to file complete and accurate lists of participating employers with their Form 5500, Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan.
Obviously, the very nature of MEPs creates a major compliance challenge. Recognizing that a substantial number of MEPs were not in full compliance with this requirement, the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) is providing temporary relief.
The EBSA has issued Field Assistance Bulletin (FAB) 2019-01, that states that the DOL will not reject a Form 5500 or Form 5500-SF (Small Employee Benefit Plan) filed on behalf of a MEP for the 2017 (or prior) plan year. Additionally, the DOL will not seek to assess civil penalties against the plan administrator, solely based on incomplete or inaccurate participating employer information.
This relief is available provided that annual reports filed for the 2018 and following plan years comply with these ERISA requirements. In addition, the EBSA is granting MEPs a special extension of up to 2½ months to file their 2018 annual reports. To utilize this relief provision, MEPs should check the “special extension” box under Part I, Line D of the 2018 Form 5500/5500-SF and enter “FAB 2019-01” as the description. MEPs using this special extension do not need to file a Form 5558 with the IRS.