Are you behind the benefit plan audit eight ball? With the July 31st Form 5500 filing deadline fast approaching, are you missing your company’s audit report to attach to the filing? Perhaps you didn’t realize your company had an audit requirement or maybe the deadline crept up faster than you anticipated.
Fortunately, you have options. Weinstein Spira’s Director of Benefit Plan Audits, Denise Woods, and Audit Senior, Kelsey Burgess, offer the following key steps to help ensure that this year’s audit and future audits run smoothly for all parties involved.
For calendar year plans, the filing deadline is July 31st. A quick call to your plan’s third party administrator requesting that they file a Form 5558 on your behalf can get you an extra 3 ½ month extension. Be sure to follow-up prior to July 31st and request a copy of the extension for your files.
Contact your plan auditor to discuss the scope of the audit, timing and fees. If this is your first employee benefit plan audit and you need some help identifying a CPA, consider asking other HR executives in your personal network about their audit experiences. Alternatively, your third-party administrator or investment advisor may also have suggestions. Prior to signing the engagement letter, consider asking a few of the following questions to ensure that you are retaining a qualified auditor:
With a quickly approaching deadline, taking the time to understand the process and agreeing to a realistic timeline is vital. If this is a new audit relationship, request that the auditor walk you through their audit process and be sure to ask the following questions:
With a good understanding of the process, work with the audit team to create a timeline.
Preparing for the audit may feel a little overwhelming at this point, but tackling one thing at a time should make tasks feel more manageable. Here are a few tips:
Schedule a face-to-face meeting or conference call with the audit team to discuss the good, the bad and lessons learned. Provide constructive feedback to the audit team and consider asking them to reciprocate. Collaborate on ways to make next year’s audit even better, including when to begin with an earlier timeline at the helm.
As Denise notes, “our most productive client relationships are the ones where we are in touch with the plan sponsor year-round, with them sharing updates and/or changes to their employee benefit plans in real time.” Keep this in mind as you work with your audit team moving forward.
In the meantime, get that Form 5500 extended! It’s the first step to avoid unnecessary fines…and to ensure that deadlines are met, so you’re able to enjoy a much-deserved vacation!