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Form 5500 Series - Which one do you need to file?

Updated: Apr 22

If your Self-Directed Solo 401(k) has $250k, or more, in it, Form 5500-SF or Form 5500-EZ must be filed with the IRS - but which one?



First off, let me give you the good news: If your Self-Directed Solo 401(k) Plan has less than $250k in it by December 31st, then you don't have to file anything with the IRS for that plan year.

The only exception to this is if the plan is terminated. In that case, regardless of the balance in the plan, Form 5500 and Form 1040-A or 1040, using information from Form 1099-R, will both need to be filed for the plan year that the final distributions were made and the plan balance went to $0.


So you have more than $250k in the plan...


“If the plan is invested in an alternative asset class, such as real estate, hard money loans, tax liens, etc, Form 5500-SF cannot be used.

If the plan has $250k or more in it, Form 5500-SF or Form 5500-EZ must be filed with the IRS.

  • You can file electronically using Form 5500-SF with the Department of Labor’s EFAST2 system, if certain conditions are met. Here is a Fact Sheet from the DOL with some additional information.

  • Or, you can mail a paper Form 5500-EZ (PDF) to the IRS.

Tip: Electric filing makes the process easier and increases data accuracy,


It's important to know, however, if the plan is invested in an alternative asset class, such as real estate, hard money loans, tax liens, etc, Form 5500-SF cannot be used. The reason for this is, in the instructions for the SF version, it states that: 100% of the account’s assets must be in certain secure investments with a readily determinable fair value, (for example, stocks.) The values for these types of alternative assets are not readily determinable, so Form 5500-EZ must be used instead.


What is the deadline for the Form to be filed?


Annual returns of one-participant plans must be filed by the last day of the 7th month after the end of the plan year. This would be 7/31 if the plan year-end is 12/31.


If an extension is needed, Form 5558 must be filed.


Visit the Form 5500 Corner web page, for additional information on one-participant plans and the instructions for Form 5500-SF and Form 5500-EZ.



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