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With ASPPA GAC’s Encouragement, Congress Fixes 5500 Filing Deadline With Highway Bill

Congress has passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015, which is expected to be signed into law Dec. 4 by President Obama — and which, thanks to ASPPA GAC input, includes a vital change for Form 5500 filers.

The bill sets policy and funding levels for transportation infrastructure projects through 2020. Importantly for ASPPA members, included in this bill was a repeal of the new extended filing deadline for the Form 5500. This means that the current Form 5500 extended due date (Oct. 15 for calendar year plans) will remain in effect without interruption going forward. This legislative fix represents a huge victory for the efforts and advocacy of the ASPPA GAC team.

Why was this fix needed? In July, Congress passed the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015. This law extended funding for transportation infrastructure projects for just three months. However, in order help offset the costs of these transportation projects, the bill included a provision that made certain changes to the due dates for the tax returns of partnerships, S corporations, C corporations and certain other entities. Included in the deadline revisions was an additional one-month extension of the Form 5500 extended filing due date, creating an automatic 3½-month extension period (rather than the current 2½-month extension period). This meant that, starting in 2016, the new extended deadline for a calendar year plan would have been Nov. 15, a month later than the current deadline of Oct. 15.

ASPPA members, after learning of this deadline change, voiced concern that the new Form 5500 extended due date would create serious workflow problems for them. For example, safe harbor 401(k) notices are due 30 to 90 days before a new plan year begins. Plan design and investment changes are also an important topic of discussion ahead of a new year. If an investment change is made, a “blackout” notice may have to be prepared as well. Finally, many firms use the year-end months to further develop their business. Adding an additional month to the deadline would create unnecessary conflicts with this year-end work without any real benefit to any interested party.

As a result of the feedback from membership, the ASPPA GAC team worked diligently to restore the current Form 5500 deadline back into the law. This effort, including work over the Thanksgiving holiday, successfully culminated this week when the long-term highway bill cleared Congress.

This work involved many meetings with members of Congress and their staff in order to convey to them and to ultimately convince them of the importance and urgency of this initiative. The fact that this effort was a success is owed to the access and the relationships the ASPPA GAC team has on Capitol Hill.

Again, this access and these relationships would not be possible without the ASPPA membership’s involvement, and continued support, of the ASPPA PAC. This legislative success is a clear example why your support of the ASPPA PAC is critical to our success so we can effectively serve as your voice in Washington.

Craig P. Hoffman, APM, is General Counsel, American Retirement Association. Andrew Remo is the American Retirement Association’s Director of Congressional Affairs.