Three Agencies Want Pension Fund Reporting Reforms

By Stephen Barlas
October 1, 2016

Three federal agencies want to revise the forms that companies submit containing financial information about their pension plans. These are Form 5500, Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan, and a short form for small business, designated 5500-SF. The three federal agencies coordinating the effort are the Department of Labor (DOL), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).


Among the reforms proposed are new questions regarding plan operations, service provider relationships, and financial management of the plans. The proposed changes would cover 806,000 private-sector pension and welfare benefit plans. Pension fund financial information is submitted on Schedule H (Large Plan Financial Information) and Schedule I (Small Plan Financial Information), two forms that have remained essentially unchanged since 1975.


The new information that the three agencies want companies to provide in H and I would ostensibly lead to increased transparency and accountability in connection with employee benefit plan investments in hard-to-value and alternative assets, as well as assets held through pooled investment vehicles. The majority of proposed forms revisions are currently targeted for implementation in the 2019 plan year. Form 5500 was last modified in 2009. The Government Accountability Office and the Inspector General offices at the DOL and Treasury Department have issued recommendations for changes in the forms.


Stephen Barlas has covered Washington, D.C., for trade and professional magazines since 1981 and since 1984 for Strategic Finance and its predecessor Management Accounting. You can reach him at sbarlas@verizon.net.
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