Managing a construction company’s retirement plan is no easy task. The rules are complicated and the penalties can be severe. Far too often, however, upper management doesn’t understand this dynamic and designates a person that is not technically-equipped to handle this serious responsibility.
Employers often hire a myriad of advisors to help them administer their plan, but these advisors do just that – help. As the plan administrator, the employer is responsible for the plan unless they pay a hefty fee to offload that responsibility, which makes it so surprising that many employers give this responsibility to the wrong person in their organization.
Some of the most important aspects of plan management are:
Congratulations! March 15th has come and gone and your construction company’s 401(k) compliance testing is done and refunds have been issued. Now you can relax! Or can you? You still need to make sure your Form 5500 is filed for last year. Failing to file on time or failing to file the Form 5500 with audited financial statements, if required, can be quite costly. Don’t let this deadline sneak up on you.
Form 5500 must be filed electronically by the last day of the 7th calendar month after the plan year-end. For calendar year 2013 plans, this is July 31, 2014. Filing an automatic extension, Form 5558, extends the deadline an additional 2 ½ months, to October 15th for calendar year end plans. A penalty of up to $1,100 a day can be assessed for each day a plan administrator fails to file a complete and accurate return!
That deadline may seem far away, but if you are a large plan filer (generally more than 100 participants at the beginning of the plan year) and you must file audited financial statements with your Form 5500, you need to start the process
Ask These Questions to Gauge Experience and Knowledge
Choosing a qualified benefit plan auditor can be a challenging process for construction companies and contractors. Selecting an inexperienced auditor or one with a less than stellar track record can have lasting ramifications on your plan. There are several factors to consider when evaluating potential auditors:
Is your construction company’s employee benefit plan participant count causing you to become dangerously close to needing an audit? Have you just received your compliance testing results from your record-keeper and realized that your benefit plan requires an audit this year? Your first response may be to panic (because who doesn’t panic at the word “audit”?). Then you find out that your plan will be subject to a limited-scope audit rather than a full-scope audit. Whew! Luckily, your custodian provides certified trust statements, eliminating the need for the auditor to perform investment valuation and investment purchase and sales testing. So, what else could the auditors really test in a benefit plan? The reality may surprise you!
While a limited-scope audit may scale back the scope of the audit and reduce the amount of testing to be performed during fieldwork, the audit procedures are not reduced as significantly as you might expect. A limited-scope audit still requires
How to Pick a Benefit Plan Auditor
There are plenty of benefit plan auditors out there – over 7,000 in fact. However, don’t make the mistake of believing that just any company can effectively audit your plan. Department of Labor statistics indicate that one in three audits performed are deficient, and the DOL has made hundreds of referrals to the AICPA Ethics division for this poor work. Unfortunately, the negative exposure from a failed audit reflects on you, the plan sponsor, so it is important to select a firm you can trust. Here are some suggestions on how to find a qualified auditor for your construction company’s benefit plan: