Key 2018 Compliance Dates for Your Company 401(k)

Happy New Year! As with every year, there are important dates in 2018 that 401(k) plan managers can prepare for in advance. These key dates vary in how much action you’ll have to take—some may be as simple as signing and filing a form with the IRS. Others are related to ensuring that paperwork is in order. There are also deadlines by which your business is required to fund contributions made to your employees, undergo compliance testing, and distribute notices to your employees.

Below are some key dates that managers of 401(k) plans will want to be aware of:

Jan. 15: Provide and confirm prior year census data. The 401(k) plan manager confirms to the recordkeeper that the prior year census data is accurate. The recordkeeper will use that information to complete compliance testing in February.

Feb. 15: Review and approve compliance testing results. Compliance testing, which identifies whether your company 401(k) is in line with rules and regulations from the U.S. Department of Labor and IRS, exists to help ensure that plans aren’t discriminating in favor of highly-compensated employees.

March 31: Complete Form 5500. The Form 5500 is used to file a 401(k) or other retirement plan with the DOL, which satisfies the annual reporting required under ERISA. The service provider typically prepares the Form 5500, with the recordkeeper filling out the questionnaire. The 401(k) plan manager will need to sign it.

April 15: Fund employer contributions. This is the deadline for filing individual and/or corporate tax returns, as well as the deadline to fund employer contributions to the plan and still receive a tax deduction for 2017.

July 31: File IRS Form 5500. This is the deadline to sign and file your Form 5500.

Aug. 15: Mid-year compliance testing. This is optional, but if your plan failed compliance testing in February, you should consider a mid-year compliance test.

Sept. 30: Distribute Summary Annual Report. If you filed your Form 5500 in July (rather than request an extension), this is the deadline to distribute the Summary Annual Report to all employees and beneficiaries currently receiving benefits.

Oct. 1: Review your 401(k) plan document. Every fall, review your plan document to make sure that your 401(k) plan management is in line with what the plan document dictates. Amendments made in the fall can be made effective for the new year—request these changes from your service provider.

Nov. 1: Distribute annual participant notices to employees. These notices are applicable for Safe Harbor plans, Qualified Default Investment Alternatives, and Automatic Contribution Arrangements (if your plan has any). These notices can be combined, and many service providers can assist 401(k) plan managers with their creation and distribution.

For a full list of dates, download our 401(k) Compliance Calendar for 2018.

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