Compliance FAQs

Qualified retirement plans file federal forms each year about their activity and status. Here are answers to a few questions you may have about them.
Am I required to file a Form 5500/5500SF?
Any employer that maintains a qualified retirement plan is required to file an annual Form 5500. Qualified retirement plans include defined benefit, profit sharing, money purchase, and 401(k) plans. Even if a plan has terminated, an employer is required to file a form until all plan assets have been paid out to participants.
Can I paper file the Form 5500/5500SF?
No, effective January 1, 2010 the Department of Labor (DOL) requires all retirement and welfare plans to file their annual Form 5500 reports electronically – with the exception of owner only plans that file Form 5500-EZ. The DOL will not accept mailed paper copy forms.
How do I know when the form is ready to be signed and efiled?
You will receive an email from American Trust stating your Form 5500/5500SF is available. You will be directed to the FT Williams website and instructions will be provided for you to retrieve and efile the Form 5500.
Do I need to complete any questions asked on the Form 5500/5500SF?
No, American Trust provides you with a signature ready form. You as the plan sponsor are responsible for efiling the form through the FT Williams website.
What is a SAR?
Summary Annual Report (SAR) briefly contains information that is reported on the Form 5500/5500SF and informs participants and beneficiaries of the plan’s financial condition. It is required that all eligible participants receive a copy of the SAR within 9 months after the close of the plan year, or if an extension was filed, within 2 months after the close of the period for which the extension was granted. Eligible participants include terminated employees and beneficiaries with remaining balances in the plan.
What is a Form 8955-SSA?
This form mainly notifies the Social Security Administration (SSA) of separated participants who still have deferred vested benefits payable from a retirement plan. When a participant retires and applies for social security, the SSA informs participants they have money in a particular plan.
How is the Form 8955-SSA filed?
American Trust will efile this form on your behalf. You are able to view and print the form from the FT Williams website but because it contains participant social security numbers it is filed separately from the Form 5500/5500 SF as the 5500 is publicly disclosed on the EFAST2 website.
How do I obtain my signing credentials?

You will need to obtain signer credentials from the EFAST2 website at and click on “Register” and follow the detailed instructions provided.

What if I forgot or misplaced my signing credential PIN?
Go to the EFAST2 website and click on “Login”. After successfully logging in you may view your PIN and other registration information by selecting “User Profile.” This page will display your credentials.

When electronically signing the Form 5500/5500SF, select the “Would you like to save your PIN for future use” option. This will save your User ID and PIN to our system and will automatically populate in the signing fields for future filings.

I don’t remember my User ID. How can I retrieve it?

From the EFAST2 website select “Login” on the welcome screen. Then select “Forgot User ID” and enter the email address that you provided during registration. You will need to provide the answer to your challenge question to view your User ID.

I don’t remember my Password. How can I retrieve it?

If you have forgotten your password, or if your password is locked, from the EFAST2 website select “Login” on the welcome screen, then select “Forgot Password” on the login page. To use the “Forgot Password” option, you must enter a valid User ID or registered email address. You will also be prompted to enter the answer to your challenge question. If done successfully, you will be allowed to create a new password.

How do I know that the form has been filed successfully?
After the Electronic Signer has entered their DOL credentials and signed the 5500 you will see one of the following filing statuses:

-Accepted: the DOL has accepted the filing.

-Not Accepted: the DOL has not accepted the filing, due to the plan not meeting DOL required edit checks. The software should provide a list of the DOL errors. The filing is still considered filed but will need to be amended and re‐filed.

– Rejected: If certain fields are missing, the filing will be rejected. The filing does not need to be amended, correction will need to be made and then re‐filed.

What is the filing deadline?
The Form 5500/5500SF and any required schedules and attachments, must be filed by the last day of the 7th calendar month after the end of the plan year (not to exceed 12 months in length). If the deadline falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or Federal holiday the filing may be filed on the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or Federal holiday.
What is the late filing penalty?
Generally, if a Form 5500/5500SF is filed late you may be liable for civil penalties of up to $1,100 per day for each late return, along with IRS penalties of $25 per day (up to $15,000).
Who files an extension for the filing if needed?
American Trust will automatically prepare a Form 5558 to request a 2 ½ month extension where we are unable to prepare the Form 5500/5500SF due to circumstances of incomplete year end census data or pending plan audits. Extensions will also be filed upon request.
Does my plan need an audit?
If the plan qualifies as a large plan, it must file a Form 5500 with a Schedule H and have a limited scope audit done by a qualified independent public accountant.

Small plans are exempt from an audit requirement if 1) At least 95% of the plan’s assets are qualifying plan assets; 2) The amount of the plan’s fidelity bond is not less than 100% of the non-qualifying plan assets.

View General FAQs


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