Form 5500-EZ Privacy Questions

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Topic Author
CFM300
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Form 5500-EZ Privacy Questions

Post by CFM300 »

The IRS has announced that Form 5500-EZ can now be filed online and that information from one-participant plans filed online will not be available to the public on the DOL website. Nonetheless, the 2019 Form 5500-EZ instructions state, "Information filed on Form 5500-EZ and Form 5500-SF is required to be made available to the public."

Let's assume that I am a sole-proprietor dba "Acme Consulting," that my name is John Smith and the name of my 401(k) plan is "John Smith's Individual 401(k) Plan." Let's also assume that the EIN I used on the adoption agreement is the same as the EIN I've been giving to clients.

Several questions:

1. Is there any privacy advantage to changing the name of the plan to the name of my business, e.g., "Acme Consulting 401(k) Plan"?

2. Is there any privacy advantage to getting a new EIN for the plan itself to use on the 5500-EZ?

3. Can I list "Acme Consulting" as the employer name on line 2a, and my individual name for "In care of name"?

4. I have no separate business phone number. Should I get a Google Voice number to use on this form?
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BolderBoy
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Re: Form 5500-EZ Privacy Questions

Post by BolderBoy »

CFM300 wrote: Sat May 16, 2020 2:30 pmThe IRS has announced that Form 5500-EZ can now be filed online and that information from one-participant plans filed online will not be available to the public on the DOL website. Nonetheless, the 2019 Form 5500-EZ instructions state, "Information filed on Form 5500-EZ and Form 5500-SF is required to be made available to the public."
The announcment says the online filing of form 5500-EZ is for plan years after 2019.

Personally I doubt much real info is harvested from the public document nature of these forms unless the total assets of the plan are VERY large which is unlikely for a solo401k plan. My completed form is going into the mail this coming week.
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livesoft
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Re: Form 5500-EZ Privacy Questions

Post by livesoft »

Why are you not filing 5500-SF instead?

Have you ever tried to search for your 5500 info yourself online? Were you successful?

Have you ever tried to search a public company's 5500 yourself online? Were you successful? For instance, I can find my spouse's employer 5500 easily

Link: https://5500search.dol.gov/
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Topic Author
CFM300
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Re: Form 5500-EZ Privacy Questions

Post by CFM300 »

livesoft wrote: Sat May 16, 2020 4:33 pm Why are you not filing 5500-SF instead?
Did you read the IRS link above? It states, "Form 5500-SF is no longer used by a one-participant plan in place of Form 5500-EZ."
livesoft wrote: Sat May 16, 2020 4:33 pm Have you ever tried to search for your 5500 info yourself online? Were you successful?
I've never filed a 5500, in any form.
livesoft wrote: Sat May 16, 2020 4:33 pm Have you ever tried to search a public company's 5500 yourself online? Were you successful?
Yes, and Yes.

Do you have answers to any of my questions? :twisted:
Topic Author
CFM300
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Re: Form 5500-EZ Privacy Questions

Post by CFM300 »

BolderBoy wrote: Sat May 16, 2020 4:21 pm The announcment says the online filing of form 5500-EZ is for plan years after 2019.
I understand, but how is that relevant to my questions about privacy? Do you think in 2020 the form itself and instructions will no longer say that the information on the form is required to be made available to the public?
livesoft
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Re: Form 5500-EZ Privacy Questions

Post by livesoft »

FWIW, all my Form 5500-SF have right on them:
Image

The instructions have always said not to put one's SSN on them, but to use an EIN. The instructions have also said that these forms are open to public inspection even if somewhere else said they would not be open to public inspection.

I will say that I doubt that having a second EIN (first for your business, second for the plan) would make any difference in terms of privacy. Nor would using a different name for your plan if anyone knows the name of your plan.

Nevertheless, I have searched the Form 5500 database and never had my forms show up as found.

So I think the 2020 instructions and the form itself will not state that the form is not available to the public -- even if it actually isn't.
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MP123
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Re: Form 5500-EZ Privacy Questions

Post by MP123 »

I've searched for mine on EFAST2 with no luck finding them. My understanding is that the 5500 series forms for one-participant plans aren't available on line. I'm not sure if there's some other way for others to request copies of them or not.

At this point I don't think you need to take steps to disguise the plan to keep people from seeing it, assuming it's a one-participant plan.
Topic Author
CFM300
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Re: Form 5500-EZ Privacy Questions

Post by CFM300 »

livesoft wrote: Sat May 16, 2020 5:13 pm I will say that I doubt that having a second EIN (first for your business, second for the plan) would make any difference in terms of privacy.
I was thinking that using a second EIN would at least prevent clients from using my first EIN (which they have) to search for my 5500 information, online or otherwise.
livesoft wrote: Sat May 16, 2020 5:13 pm Nor would using a different name for your plan if anyone knows the name of your plan.
I don't see how anyone other than Vanguard could know the name of my plan until I file a 5500.
livesoft wrote: Sat May 16, 2020 5:13 pm Nevertheless, I have searched the Form 5500 database and never had my forms show up as found.
I wonder how the forms are made available to the public other than through the DOL website.

Thanks for your replies! :beer
livesoft
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Re: Form 5500-EZ Privacy Questions

Post by livesoft »

I don't see that doing what you want to do creates any complications nor hassles for you, so I don't see why you wouldn't do it anyways. There is really nothing that I know of to stop you from doing this. OK, maybe this: You die, but forgot to tell any heirs that you have a solo 401(k) plan and its details. You already know that Vanguard won't help them. :twisted:
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Topic Author
CFM300
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Re: Form 5500-EZ Privacy Questions

Post by CFM300 »

MP123 wrote: Sat May 16, 2020 5:23 pm At this point I don't think you need to take steps to disguise the plan to keep people from seeing it, assuming it's a one-participant plan.
livesoft wrote: Sat May 16, 2020 6:13 pm I don't see that doing what you want to do creates any complications nor hassles for you, so I don't see why you wouldn't do it anyways.
Should I even care if someone can look up the value of my one-participant 401(k) plan? Lots of my friends work at public universities and their salaries are available online.

Still, as you say, it's pretty easy for me to take the steps I've outlined (change plan name, use new EIN, get a Google Voice number), so I think I will.
lstone19
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Re: Form 5500-EZ Privacy Questions

Post by lstone19 »

Not available on the DOL website is not the same as not open to public inspection. Historically, public inspection meant going to an office where documents could be viewed. Presumably, they will not be on the website but could still be inspected by going to the appropriate office.
Topic Author
CFM300
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Re: Form 5500-EZ Privacy Questions

Post by CFM300 »

lstone19 wrote: Sat May 16, 2020 7:17 pm Presumably, they will not be on the website but could still be inspected by going to the appropriate office.
Right. And then I wonder what someone would need in order to find and inspect my particular 5500. My EIN? My plan name? Could they ask to see any 5500 with my individual name listed anywhere in any field?
jameskay
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Re: Form 5500-EZ Privacy Questions

Post by jameskay »

I was today annoyed by the fact that I got a solicitation (in my cell phone voice mail) purported to be a rep from a well-known large broker who called me because they saw I am administrator who filled out the Form 5500 for my corporation / solo 401K. I am not naming the large broker because I did not go back and confirm that the phone number really matches that company. For all I know it could be a scammer.

Before this, I never had given any second thought to the public nature of the Form 5500. I have / had used the Form 5500-SF. I am therefore glad to read the article at the top from OP that says that going forward these forms 5500-EZ are not public. Interestingly in my 2019 Form 5500-SF I had specified my phone number in Box 2c, but in 2018 I did not. (Not sure why / whether it became mandatory).

I have filled out form 5500 for at least 10 years and this is the first time I ever got such solicitation. Still, this story may tell OP and others that your Google Voice Number idea and other means of privatizing your 5500 may be justified.
livesoft
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Re: Form 5500-EZ Privacy Questions

Post by livesoft »

My 401(k) plan is held at a well-known large broker. As administrator of my 401(k) I receive updates in the mail from the well-known large broker from time to time as statutes are changed. The updates basically say "Add these to your plan documents and be sure to inform all participants in your plan of the changes."

I can easily see that a broker who moved from one firm to another might take a list of contacts with them and use that list to call people and make up a false premise about where they got the phone number.

OTOH, I am trying to figure out why I should care if the info on my 5500-SF becomes public. After all, the fact that I filed one tells everybody that the plan has at least $250,000 in assets. Big whoop.
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