IRS OK’s Skipping Certain 2015 Form 5500 Questions

February 29, 2016


The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced that it will not require plan administrators to answer certain new questions added to the Form 5500/5500-SF and Schedules H, I and R for the 2015 plan year.  The questions on the 2015 Form 5500 that the IRS says plan administrators can skip answering are:

  • The Preparer Information on the bottom of page 1 of the Form 5500
  • Lines 4o-p, 6a-d on the Schedule H
  • Lines 4o-p, 6a-d on the Schedule I
  • New Part VII (Lines 20a-c, 21a-b, 22a-d, and 23) on Schedule R
  • Preparer Information (page 1 bottom), Lines 10j, 14a-d, and New Part IX
    (Lines 15a-c, 16a-b, 17a-d, 18, 19, and 20) on Form 5500-SF

See IRS Compliance Questions on the 2015 Form 5500-Series Returns (February 25, 2016).

About the Author

Recognized as a “Top” attorney in employee benefits, labor and employment and health care law extensively involved in health and other employee benefit and human resources policy and program design and administration representation and advocacy throughout her career, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer is a practicing attorney and Managing Shareholder of Cynthia Marcotte Stamer P.C,, a member of Stamer│Chadwick│Soefje PLLC author, pubic speaker, management policy advocate and industry thought leader with more than 27 years’ experience practicing at the forefront of employee benefits and human resources law.

A Fellow in the American College of Employee Benefit Counsel, past Chair and current Welfare Benefit Committee Co-Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) RPTE Section Employee Benefits Group, Vice Chair of the ABA Tort & Insurance Practice Section Employee Benefits Committee, former Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Interest Group, an ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits Council Representative and Board Certified in Labor & Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Ms. Stamer is recognized nationally and internationally for her practical and creative insights and leadership on health and other employee benefit, human resources and insurance matters and policy.

Ms. Stamer helps management manage. Ms. Stamer’s legal and management consulting work throughout her nearly 30- year career has focused on helping organizations and their management use the law and process to manage people, process, compliance, operations and risk. Highly valued for her rare ability to find pragmatic client-centric solutions by combining her detailed legal and operational knowledge and experience with her talent for creative problem-solving, Ms. Stamer helps public and private, domestic and international businesses, governments, and other organizations and their leaders manage their employees, vendors and suppliers, and other workforce members, customers and other’ performance, compliance, compensation and benefits, operations, risks and liabilities, as well as to prevent, stabilize and cleanup workforce and other legal and operational crises large and small that arise in the course of operations.

Ms. Stamer works with businesses and their management, employee benefit plans, governments and other organizations deal with all aspects of human resources and workforce management operations and compliance. She supports her clients both on a real time, “on demand” basis and with longer term basis to deal with daily performance management and operations, emerging crises, strategic planning, process improvement and change management, investigations, defending litigation, audits, investigations or other enforcement challenges, government affairs and public policy. Well known for her extensive work with health care, insurance and other highly regulated entities on corporate compliance, internal controls and risk management, her clients range from highly regulated entities like employers, contractors and their employee benefit plans, their sponsors, management, administrators, insurers, fiduciaries and advisors, technology and data service providers, health care, managed care and insurance, financial services, government contractors and government entities, as well as retail, manufacturing, construction, consulting and a host of other domestic and international businesses of all types and sizes. Common engagements include internal and external workforce hiring, management, training, performance management, compliance and administration, discipline and termination, and other aspects of workforce management including employment and outsourced services contracting and enforcement, sentencing guidelines and other compliance plan, policy and program development, administration, and defense, performance management, wage and hour and other compensation and benefits, reengineering and other change management, internal controls, compliance and risk management, communications and training, worker classification, tax and payroll, investigations, crisis preparedness and response, government relations, safety, government contracting and audits, litigation and other enforcement, and other concerns.

Ms. Stamer uses her deep and highly specialized health, insurance, labor and employment and other knowledge and experience to help employers and other employee benefit plan sponsors; health, pension and other employee benefit plans, their fiduciaries, administrators and service providers, insurers, and others design legally compliant, effective compensation, health and other welfare benefit and insurance, severance, pension and deferred compensation, private exchanges, cafeteria plan and other employee benefit, fringe benefit, salary and hourly compensation, bonus and other incentive compensation and related programs, products and arrangements. She is particularly recognized for her leading edge work, thought leadership and knowledgeable advice and representation on the design, documentation, administration, regulation and defense of a diverse range of self-insured and insured health and welfare benefit plans including private exchange and other health benefit choices, health care reimbursement and other “defined contribution” limited benefit, 24-hour and other occupational and non-occupational injury and accident, expat and medical tourism, onsite medical, wellness and other medical plans and insurance benefit programs as well as a diverse range of other qualified and nonqualified retirement and deferred compensation, severance and other employee benefits and compensation, insurance and savings plans, programs, products, services and activities. As a key element of this work, Ms. Stamer works closely with employer and other plan sponsors, insurance and financial services companies, plan fiduciaries, administrators, and vendors and others to design, administer and defend effective legally defensible employee benefits and compensation practices, programs, products and technology. She also continuously helps employers, insurers, administrative and other service providers, their officers, directors and others to manage fiduciary and other risks of sponsorship or involvement with these and other benefit and compensation arrangements and to defend and mitigate liability and other risks from benefit and liability claims including fiduciary, benefit and other claims, audits, and litigation brought by the Labor Department, IRS, HHS, participants and beneficiaries, service providers, and others. She also assists debtors, creditors, bankruptcy trustees and others assess, manage and resolve labor and employment, employee benefits and insurance, payroll and other compensation related concerns arising from reductions in force or other terminations, mergers, acquisitions, bankruptcies and other business transactions including extensive experience with multiple, high-profile large scale bankruptcies resulting in ERISA, tax, corporate and securities and other litigation or enforcement actions.

Ms. Stamer also is deeply involved in helping to influence the Affordable Care Act and other health care, pension, social security, workforce, insurance and other policies critical to the workforce, benefits, and compensation practices and other key aspects of a broad range of businesses and their operations. She both helps her clients respond to and resolve emerging regulations and laws, government investigations and enforcement actions and helps them shape the rules through dealings with Congress and other legislatures, regulators and government officials domestically and internationally. A former lead consultant to the Government of Bolivia on its Social Security reform law and most recognized for her leadership on U.S. health and pension, wage and hour, tax, education and immigration policy reform, Ms. Stamer works with U.S. and foreign businesses, governments, trade associations, and others on workforce, social security and severance, health care, immigration, privacy and data security, tax, ethics and other laws and regulations. Founder and Executive Director of the Coalition for Responsible Healthcare Policy and its PROJECT COPE: the Coalition on Patient Empowerment and a Fellow in the American Bar Foundation and State Bar of Texas, Ms. Stamer annually leads the Joint Committee on Employee Benefits (JCEB) HHS Office of Civil Rights agency meeting and other JCEB agency meetings. She also works as a policy advisor and advocate to many business, professional and civic organizations.

Author of the thousands of publications and workshops these and other employment, employee benefits, health care, insurance, workforce and other management matters, Ms. Stamer also is a highly sought out speaker and industry thought leader known for empowering audiences and readers. Ms. Stamer’s insights on employee benefits, insurance, health care and workforce matters in Atlantic Information Services, The Bureau of National Affairs (BNA),, Benefits Magazine, Employee Benefit News, Texas CEO Magazine, HealthLeaders, Modern Healthcare, Business Insurance, Employee Benefits News, World At Work, Benefits Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Dallas Morning News, the Dallas Business Journal, the Houston Business Journal, and many other publications. She also has served as an Editorial Advisory Board Member for human resources, employee benefit and other management focused publications of BNA,, Employee Benefit News, and many other prominent publications. Ms. Stamer also regularly serves on the faculty and planning committees for symposia of LexisNexis, the American Bar Association, ALIABA, the Society of Employee Benefits Administrators, the American Law Institute, ISSA, HIMMs, and many other prominent educational and training organizations and conducts training and speaks on these and other management, compliance and public policy concerns.

Ms. Stamer also is active in the leadership of a broad range of other professional and civic organizations. For instance, Ms. Stamer presently serves on an American Bar Association (ABA) Joint Committee on Employee Benefits Council representative; Vice President of the North Texas Healthcare Compliance Professionals Association; Immediate Past Chair of the ABA RPTE Employee Benefits & Other Compensation Committee, its current Welfare Benefit Plans Committee Co-Chair, on its Substantive Groups & Committee and its incoming Defined Contribution Plan Committee Chair and Practice Management Vice Chair; Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Interest Group and a current member of its Healthcare Coordinating Council; current Vice Chair of the ABA TIPS Employee Benefit Committee; the former Coordinator and a Vice-Chair of the Gulf Coast TEGE Council TE Division; on the Advisory Boards of,, Employee Benefit News, and many other publications. She also previously served as a founding Board Member and President of the Alliance for Healthcare Excellence, as a Board Member and Board Compliance Committee Chair for the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas; the Board President of the early childhood development intervention agency, The Richardson Development Center for Children; Chair of the Dallas Bar Association Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Committee; a member of the Board of Directors of the Southwest Benefits Association. For additional information about Ms. Stamer, see or or contact Ms. Stamer via email here or via telephone to (469) 767-8872.

About Solutions Law Press, Inc.™

Solutions Law Press, Inc.™ provides human resources and employee benefit and other business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other coaching, tools and other resources, training and education on leadership, governance, human resources, employee benefits, data security and privacy, insurance, health care and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press, Inc. ™ resources at such as:


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DOL Proposes Changes To Summary of Benefit & Coverage Rules 

February 25, 2016

Employer and union sponsored group health plans, their sponsoring employers, with insurance and service providers should review and comment on The Labor Department’s proposed changes to the Summary Of Benefits and Coverage rules.

Enacted as part of the sweeping healthcare reforms made law by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) , the SBC rules require group health plans to deliver certain standardize information about coverage and benefits provided by the plan in a format dictated by the regulations prior to the beginning of any enrollment period and  at certain other times. The duty to provide the SBC Is in addition to the responsibility to provide a summary plan description, notice of material changes in the plan, and a host of other mandatory notices required by federal law.  

Failure to provide a timely SBC can trigger penalties of up to $125 per participant per day under section 502(c) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act as well as other exposures.

Employer and other group health plan sponsors, plan administrators and other fiduciaries, insurers and other plan service providers and others involved in the design in administration a group health plan will want to carefully review these changes to consider how they might impact the preparation of the required SBC for their plans taking into account the plan design and the other notification obligations impacting the content of these notices.  Plan sponsors and plans to do Sherry to outsourced plan design, plan communication or plan administration services to ensure those or other service providers also will want to consider these requirements when reviewing and negotiating contracts with the vendors.

More proof government should stay out of healthcare

February 23, 2016

More proof government should stay out of health care!

Health Care Quality: Different Meaning For Care Vs. Coverage

February 17, 2016


American patients and their families need to be careful about mindlessly making health care choices for themselves or their family in reliance on healthcare “quality” data or guidance by private health plans and insurers, Medicare, Medicaid, or other government payers, and other public and private entities that allow the cost of care to shade their valuation of the quality of care.

The value of quality data – regardless of its source – in determining the quality and value of a proposed plan of care inherently depends upon how well a patient’s actual circumstance fits the assumptions upon which the quality analysis and conclusions rest.  Different treatment plans often impact differently patients diagnosed with the same condition for a variety of reasons.

Patients and their families making health care decisions for themselves or a loved one generally should use a two step approach when making health care provider or treatment decisions:

Patients and their families attempting to make decisions about…

View original post 1,884 more words

IRS Changes Plan Qualification Procedures, Returns, Other Procedures

February 3, 2016

By: Cynthia Marcotte Stamer

Budget limitations continue to drive the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to change its procedures for approving qualified plans, annual reporting returns and other key qualified plan forms and processes.  Along with these changes in administrative and reporting procedures, the IRS also continues to tinker with rules for qualified plans relating to domestic partners and other plan requirements.  In the process, the IRS continually is issuing additional guidance including a slew of recent guidance that has material impact upon employer and other plan sponsors and fiduciaries of qualified plans Employer and other plan fiduciaries should consult counsel about how these changes impact the protection provided by IRS  qualified plan approval, options and expenses for obtaining approval and other changes impacting their qualified 401k and other defined contribution and defined benefit plans.

  • Determinations

Revisions to the Employee Plans Determination Letter Program: (Notice 2016-3) will

  • update Revenue Procedure 2007-44 and:
  • allow controlled groups and affiliated service groups that previously made a Cycle A election to submit determination letter applications during the third Cycle A submission period (February 1, 2016 – January 31, 2017);
  • revoke any expiration dates on determination letters issued prior to January 4, 2016; and
  • extend the period from April 30, 2016, to April 30, 2017, during which certain employers may establish or adopt a defined contribution pre-approved plan on or after January 1, 2016, and may, if eligible, apply for a determination letter.
  • New Guidance

In addition to the changes in the qualification procedures and reporting forms, the IRS also announced other changes and clarifications of its qualified plan rules on its interpretation of domestic partner equality requirementsfor retirement plans (Notice 2015-86).  It also has published interim guidance on the deadline for adoption of discretionary plan amendments. (TEGE-07-1215-0026).  In addition it published guidance on when certain retirement plan and IRA deadlines may be extended for disaster affected taxpayers

  • New Form 5500s & Other Forms

The IRS also has released new form 5500 forms for use in filing returns required for 2015 and 2016 plan years and associated guidance including:

  • 2015 Form 5500-EZ, Return of One-Participant (Owners and Their Spouses) Retirement Plan (instructions)
  • Publication 560 (01/2016), Retirement Plans for Small Business (SEP, SIMPLE, and Qualified Plans)
  • Publication 590-A (01/2016), Contributions to Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs)
  • 2016 Form 1099-R, Distributions from Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts, Etc.
  • 2016 Form 5498, IRA Contribution Information
  • 2016 instructions for Forms 5498 and 1099-R, Distributions from Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts, Etc., and IRA Contribution Information
  • Corrected mailing address for Form 5308, Request for Change in Plan/Trust Year (Under section 412(d)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code) to: Internal Revenue Service, Attn: EP Letter Rulings, Stop 31, P.O. Box 12192, Covington, KY 41012-0192.

Staying atop these and other IRS qualified plan rules and development is important for retirement plan sponsors and their service providers and fiduciaries.  Employer and other plan sponsors and their leaders in particular should try to stay ahead of these changes to ensure they avoid expensive correction procedures and penalties, exposures to fiduciary breeches that can arise under the employee retirement income security act out of defects, budget appropriately to for fill responsibilities and project plan cost as part of the overall compensation costs, and minimize the administrative and financial expense of complying with reporting and other requirements by collecting necessary data and documentation more efficiently throughout the process.