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Form 5500 Series: Deadlines & Extensions

Primer Article: Deadlines and Extensions applicable to the Form 5500 Series return.

Last Updated: August 4, 2022

In this Primer Article we highlight who must file, the deadlines to file, and the extensions of time available to those filings.

Form 5500 & Form 5500-SF

The Form 5500 and Form 5500-SF must be filed electronically with the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) which is a division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). 

These forms are used to report information to the EBSA about employee benefit plans maintained by employer, such as a 401(k) plan you might maintain or are thinking of implementing.

Any administrator or sponsor of a plan, or plans, subject to ERISA must file information about each plan every year. 


Note: Uniglobal provides filing preparation services to all clients that maintain qualified plans which are subject to ERISA and therefore are required to file a Form 5500 or Form 5500-SF. 


Lingo: The acronym "ERISA" stands for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. ERISA is a federal law that sets minimum standards sponsors must adhere to for most retirement plans offered. These standards are in place to provide protection for the plan participants and their beneficiaries.

Who Must File?

The instructions to the Form 5500 indicate that the following defined contribution and defined benefit plans must file:


The following are among the pension benefit plans for which a return/report must be filed.

1. Profit-sharing plans, stock bonus plans, money purchase plans, 401(k) plans, etc.

2. Annuity arrangements under Code section 403(b)(1) and custodial accounts established under Code section 403(b)(7) for regulated investment company stock. For more information regarding filing requirements for 403(b) plans subject to Title I of ERISA, see Field Assistance Bulletins 2009-02 and 2010-01.

3. Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) established by an employer under Code section 408(c).

4. Church pension plans electing coverage under Code section 410(d).

5. Pension benefit plans that cover residents of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Wake Island, or American Samoa. This includes a plan that elects to have the provisions of section 1022(i)(2) of ERISA apply.

6. Plans that satisfy the Actual Deferral Percentage requirements of Code section 401(k)(3)(A)(ii) by adopting the ‘‘SIMPLE’’ provisions of section 401(k)(11).¹

As noted above, if you maintain a qualified retirement plan subject to ERISA that plan generally must submit a Form 5500/Form 5500-SF filing to the EBSA.

Plans that must file include, but are not limited to: Profit Sharing, 401(k), 403(b), Cash Balance, and Defined Benefit plans.

Plans not required to file include, but are not limited to: SEP, SIMPLE IRAs, Excess Benefit Plans. Governmental Plans, Executive Deferred Compensation Plans ("Top Hat"), etc.


What Is The Deadline To File?

The deadline to file is linked to the last day of the plan year. Whether a plan maintains a calendar year plan year (12/31) or an off-calendar plan year (6/30 for example) the filing is due after the same amount of time has passed following the plan year end.


Plans required to file the Form 5500 and the Form 5500-SF must do so no later than the last day of the 7th month after the plan year ends.


For calendar year plans, the filing is due 7/31.


Tip: If the deadline falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or Federal holiday, the filing may be submitted on the next business day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or Federal holiday.


The below chart summarizes the initial due dates for the Form 5500 and Form 5500-SF, irrespective of the day on which it falls.


Plan Year End Form 5500/Form 5500-SF Due w/o Form 5558 Extension
01/31 08/31
02/28 09/30
03/31 10/31
04/30 11/30
05/31 12/31
06/30 01/31
07/31 02/28
08/31 03/31
09/30 04/30
10/31 05/31
11/30 06/30
12/31 07/31


If your plan has a short plan year - one which is less than 12 months - either for the initial plan year or the final plan year, you still apply the 7-1/2 month rule. The form and any applicable schedules must be filed by the last day of the 7th calendar month after the short plan year ends. If filing under an authorized extension of time the due date is by the extended due date.


Form 5558: Application for Extension of Time To File Certain Employee Plan Returns

Plans required to file the Form 5500 or Form 5500-SF may obtain a one-time extension of time to file their annual return. The IRS Form 5558, Application for Extension of Time To File Certain Employee Plan Returns, grants an extension of up to 2½ months after the normal due date of the annual return.

Tip: A calendar year plan, for example, could file Form 5558 on or before the 7/31 deadline to extend the Form 5500-SF deadline to October 15.


Note: The Form 5558 must be filed with the IRS. Uniglobal will file this on behalf of clients needing to extend the return deadline.


As with the preparation of the Form 5500 and its applicable schedules or the Form 5500-SF, Uniglobal will prepare and submit the Form 5558 for any plan that requires additional time to file as instructed. 


What About Automatic Extensions?

If you are using an extension of time to file your Federal Income Tax Return, an automatic extension of time to file the Form 5500 Annual Return/Report until the due date of your federal income tax return will be granted if all of the following conditions are met:

  • the plan year and the employer’s tax year are the same;
  • the employer has been granted an extension of time to file its federal income tax return to a date later than the normal due date for filing the Form 5500; and
  • a copy of the application for extension of time to file the federal income tax return is maintained with the filer’s records.


Warning: An extension granted by using this automatic extension procedure CANNOT be extended further by filing a Form 5558, nor can it be extended beyond a total of 9½ months beyond the close of the plan year.


Due to this warning it may be worth considering that a Form 5558 be filed for the plan to obtain the maximum extension of time to file the Form 5500 or Form 5500-SF, in lieu of the automatic extension. 

The below chart summarizes the due dates for the Form 5500 and Form 5500-SF, irrespective of the day on which it falls, inclusive of the extensions.


Plan Year End Form 5500/Form 5500-SF Due w/o Form 5558 Extension Form 5500/Form 5500-SF Due w/ Form 5558 Extension
01/31 08/31 11/15
02/28 09/30 12/15
03/31 10/31 01/15
04/30 11/30 02/15
05/31 12/31 03/15
06/30 01/31 04/15
07/31 02/28 05/15
08/31 03/31 06/15
09/30 04/30 07/15
10/31 05/31 08/15
11/30 06/30 09/15
12/31 07/31 10/15


We're happy to connect with you should you have any questions about these forms or filing for extensions. Send us a note to get support now.