Along with the immediate and unique challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented to employers, these same employers – in their capacity as plan sponsors – are still tasked with their routine benefits plan reporting responsibilities. Individual taxpayers, too, remain subject to deadlines for tax filings and related matters, such as deadlines for making health savings account (HSA) contributions. Happily, federal authorities have provided relief related to these obligations and deadlines.
Extended deadline for ERISA Form 5500 filings
The filing deadline for any Form 5500 filing that would otherwise have been due between April 1, 2020, through July 14, 2020, whether or not under an extension of time to file, has been deferred to July 15, 2020. Thus, not only is the initial (i.e., unextended) Form 5500 deadline for plan years ending in September, October or November 2019 automatically extended to July 15, 2020, but so too is any previously extended deadline, if that extended due date falls within the April 1 – July 14 date range.
Lockton comment: For example, a plan with a plan year ending June 30, 2019, had an initial Form 5500 due date of Jan. 31, 2020. On Jan. 15, the plan obtained a routine two-and-a-half-month extension of the initial deadline, to April 15, 2020. That extended deadline is automatically further extended to July 15, 2020.
The authorities have not yet, however, extended the July 31, 2020, initial deadline for Form 5500 due for calendar year plans with plan years ending Dec. 31, 2019. The normal two-and-a-half-month extension remains available, as long as the extension is requested before July 31, 2020. That extension may be requested on Form 5558.
Federal tax filing and payment obligation extensions
In Notice 2020-23, the IRS extended the following payment and filing deadlines (among others), which were originally due on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020. These deadlines, too, are automatically extended to July 15, 2020:
- Individual income tax payments and return filings
- Corporate, partnership and estate or trust income tax payments and return filings
- Exempt organization business income tax and other payments and return filings
- Excise tax payments on investment income
- Quarterly estimated income tax payments for individuals, estates and corporations
Health savings account contributions for 2019 tax year
Most employees make HSA contributions through payroll on a pretax basis, payroll by payroll. But not all employees do so. Some, as well as partners and other self-employed persons, make after-tax contributions after the close of the calendar year, but they want the contributions to relate to the year just closed. While employers, if they make HSA contributions at all, typically also make them during the year to which they relate, some may wish to make contributions in 2020 that relate to the 2019 calendar year.
Typically, the deadline for making HSA contributions for any tax year is the date the individual’s income tax filing is due under the initial (unextended) deadline. Thus, HSA contributions that an individual might want to relate to the 2019 year would normally have had to be made by April 15, 2020. But the IRS, also in Notice 2020-23, says these HSA contributions can be made through July 15, 2020. If an employer wishes to make such contributions, it needs to tell the trustee to which the contributions are transferred that the contributions relate to 2019.
No relief for late ACA filings
Shockingly absent from extension in any IRS guidance issued in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic was an extension of the March 31, 2020, deadline for filings Forms 1094-C and 1095-C electronically with the IRS. So, employers who were already in the throes of disaster planning or implementing a disaster contingency plan at that time and missed their ACA filing deadline remain at the mercy of the IRS. We presume those employers will be able to demonstrate good cause for their delay.