Although it is probably not high on the list of priorities for plan administrators, the end of a calendar year usually means means the start of the process of preparing 5500s. They may not be due right away, but it is always good to know what information you will have to provide when you eventually file them. The Employee Benefits Security Administration has made an informational copy of the 2011 5500 available, with instructions, on its website.

Make sure you take a look at the "Changes to Note" section in the instructions to see how 2011 differs from prior years. Also, remember that you have seven months from the end of the plan year to make a filing (unless you request an extension). And finally, make sure you read very carefully to make sure you know whether or not you have to file for your specific plans.

I also like this site because it gives samples of older forms and instructions just in case you may have forgotten to make a required filing and are looking to voluntarily correct that failure.

Keith R. McMurdy, Partner in the New York office, can be reached at 212-878-7919 or

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