Annual Filing Deadline (for most plans) is Approaching

May 20, 2024
By Jay Kirschbaum



All employee benefit plans (retirement and health and welfare) that are subject to ERISA* must file a Form 5500 annually. The requirement is to submit the filing electronically every year no later than 7 months after the end of the plan year (unless an exemption applies). Most employer plans base their plan years on the calendar year meaning they must file their annual reports for 2023 with the DOL by July 31, 2024. The plans are entitled to an automatic extension of 2 ½ months )i.e., October 15, 2024) provided they file Form 5558 with the IRS no later than the original due date (or July 31, 2024 for calendar year plans).

world observationAlmost all retirement plan Forms 5500 are extended due to additional complexity and audit requirements that rarely apply to health and welfare plans. The practice of automatically extending the deadline can be attractive to harried benefit administrators given the large number of plans that have similar deadlines. In practice, just moving the deadline to October 15 automatically can result in a more stressful filing obligation since no additional extension is available if the October 15 deadline is missed (see below for penalty discussion). Therefore, employers should be diligent in meeting the original deadline if possible, but can take some comfort in the knowledge that an automatic extension is available.  

Small welfare benefit plans (fewer than 100 covered participants) that are unfunded or fully insured (or a combination of unfunded and insured) are exempt from the Form 5500 filing requirement. The instructions to the 5500 specifically instruct such plans not to file the form so such plans should not file a Form 5500 even under a “belt & suspenders” approach.

What are the consequences of delinquent filing?  


The DOL can assess penalties for noncompliance with the annual reporting requirements, including submitting incomplete Forms 5500 or not filing Forms 5500 by the due date. The penalties can be significant and are increased each year under ERISA. In 2024 the DOL can assess penalties of $2,670 per day for failure to file the 5500. The penalties may be waived if the noncompliance was due to reasonable cause but simple oversight is not a reasonable cause. 

The DOL maintains a program titled the Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program (DFVCP). The DFVCP was adopted to provide a method for plans to come into compliance. If employers voluntarily use the DFVCP before being audited by the DOL or being notified by the DOL of the failure to file a 5500 the normal penalties can be waived and the maximum penalty assessed would be no more than $4,000 per plan.  

world observationMany employers fear coming forward with their compliance obligations under the assumption that doing so will cause a red flag to be raised at the DOL that they would rather avoid. However, the DFVCP offers a unique opportunity to get their filing obligations in order voluntarily in exchange for a relatively small penalty. Therefore, except in truly extreme circumstances (and employers should connect with their advisors if they are concerned about their individual circumstances) it would seem like an easy case to use the DFVCP for fixing those delinquent filings.  

*Church plans and governmental plans are generally exempt from ERISA and the filing obligation.



Employers with calendar year plans that do not qualify for a filing exemption should work with their service providers to electronically file the Form 5500 (including required schedules and attachments) using the DOL’s EFAST2 electronic filing system by July 31, 2024.

Employers that need extra time should file Form 5558 by July 31, 2024. Plan administrators should use a paper Form 5558, as electronic filing of Form 5558 is postponed until 2025.

Annual HSA Limits Revised for 2025 

Health savings accounts (HSAs) permit individuals to fund an account to pay for qualifying health expenses that are not otherwise reimbursed. In order to do so, the individual must have qualifying coverage under a “high deductible health plan” (HDHP) with minimum deductions and maximum out-of-pocket costs. The limits for all of those amounts change annually based on the cost of living.  The IRS recently released the new amounts for 2025.

HSA Funding Limits: 2025 

For calendar year 2025, the annual limitation on deductions for an individual with self-only coverage under a high deductible health plan is $4,300.  

The annual limitation for an individual with family coverage under a high deductible health plan is $8,550. 

High Deductible Health Plan: 2025  

For calendar year 2025, a “high deductible health plan” is health plan:

  1. with an annual deductible that is not less than $1,650 for self-only coverage or $3,300 for family coverage, and 
  2. annual out-of-pocket expenses (deductibles, co-payments, and other amounts, but not premiums) that do not exceed $8,300 for self-only coverage or $16,600 for family coverage.


This Legal Update is not intended to be exhaustive, nor should any discussion or opinion be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice. All rights reserved.

About the Author

 Jay Kirschbaum

Senior Vice President, Director of Benefits Compliance

  • Jay has 30+ years of experience as a tax attorney, specializing in employee benefits programs.
  • Responsible for helping World's clients keep their benefit plans within the boundaries of all applicable laws and regulations while simultaneously enhancing the experience and plan results