April 27, 1995 – The Dept. of Labor announces the Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program (DFVCP), 60 FR 20874. It is intended to encourage, through the assessment of reduced civil penalties, delinquent plan administrators to comply with their annual reporting obligations under Title I of ERISA.
At the time, ERISA section 502(c)(2) permits the Secretary of Labor to assess civil penalties of up to $1,000 a day against plan administrators who fail or refuse to file complete and timely annual reports (Form 5500) as required by ERISA section 101(b)(4). These fines are personally assessed against the plan administrator and cannot be paid with plan assets. Delinquent filers who utilize the DFVCP program within 12 months afer the date on which the annual report was due, without regard to any extensions, are assessed a penalty of $50 per day for each day the annual report is filed after the due date, up to a maximum of $2,5000 for Form 5500 filers and up to a maximum of $1,000 for Form 5500-C filers. If the delinquent filing is made more than 12 months after the date on which the annual report is due, without regard to extensions, the maximum penalty is $5,000 for Form 5500 filers and $2,000 for Form 5500-C filers.
In 2002, the DOL updates the DFVCP program to adjust the civil penalty structure by lowering the civil penalty assessments from $50 per day to $10 per day. The maximum amounts are also adjusted to $750 for small plans and $2,000 for large plans. An additional per-plan cap is added to address concerns that the cumulative effect of failing to file multiple annual reports will create a penalty too large for a small plan administrator to pay. A per plan cap of $1,500 is added for small plans, and a per plan cap of $4,000 is added for large plans. The adjustment is designed to further encourage and facilitate voluntary compliance by plan administrators with ERISA’s annual reporting requirements.