News and Commentary

Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans Face Reporting, Audit Criteria Changes this Year By Olga Ismail

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Labor, Internal Revenue Service and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation issued final changes to the ways in which retirement plan sponsors must annually report critical information about their employee benefit plans in according with the Secure Act that was passed into law in 2021. These updates apply to employer’s annual reporting obligations for the 2023 tax year, which they will complete in calendar-year 2024.

Businesses that sponsor retirement savings plans generally must file IRS series 5500 forms by July 31 of the year following their defined benefit plan’s year-end. The information they must disclose includes the plan’s financial circumstances, its sources of funding, its administrative expenses, the number of active participants and the benefits paid out to account owners. Plans with fewer than 100 participants at the beginning of the plan year must file Form 5500-SF, Short Form Annual Return/Report of Small Employee Benefit Plan, whereas single-member plans for must file Form 5500-EZ, Annual Return of a One-Participant (Owners/Partners and Their Spouses) Retirement Plan.

One of the more impactful changes taking effect for 2023 tax-year reporting is a new method plan sponsors may use to determine eligibility for filing simplified Forms 5500-SF for plans with less than 100 participants. Rather than requiring plan sponsors to count both the number of employees actively participating in and eligible to participate in their plans, they may instead count only the number of plan participants and beneficiaries with account balances at the beginning of the plan year. With this limit in place, it is expected than many more 401(k) plans will meet the less than 100 plan participants threshold and qualify to file the simplified and less costly short form 5500.

The retirement plan advisors with Provenance Wealth Advisors have deep experience helping businesses establish 401(k) and 403(b) benefit plans for their employees and helping them meet their various federal filing requirements.

About the Author: Olga Ismail is a retirement plan consultant in the Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., office of Provenance Wealth Advisors (PWA), an Independent Registered Investment Advisor affiliated with Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs, and a registered representative with Raymond James Financial Services. For more information, call (954) 712-8888 or email

Provenance Wealth Advisors (PWA), 515 E. Las Olas Blvd., Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954) 712-8888.

Olga Ismail is a registered representative of and offers securities through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC.  

Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse the opinions or services of Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs. PWA is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services. Investment Advisory Services offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc., and Provenance Wealth Advisors.

This material is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. Any opinions are those of PWA and not necessarily those of Raymond James. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional. The information contained in this report has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but Raymond James does not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.

401(k) plans are long-term retirement savings vehicles. Withdrawal of pre-tax contributions and/or earnings will be subject to ordinary income tax and, if taken prior to age 59 1/2, may be subject to a 10 percent federal tax penalty. Investing involves risk, investors may incur a profit or loss regardless of the strategy or strategies employed. Future investment performance cannot be guaranteed. Matching contributions from an employer may be subject to a vesting schedule. Please review your retirement plan documents or consult with a financial professional for more information.

To learn more about Provenance Wealth Advisors financial planning services click here or contact us at

Posted on May 24, 2023