Rev. Proc. 2015-32: Small retirement plans, penalty relief program made permanent

Rev. Proc. 2015-32: Small retirement plans

The IRS is making permanent a program for small businesses with retirement plans that owe penalties for not filing certain information reporting forms.


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Rev. Proc. 2015-32, appearing in the Monday, June 15 edition of the Internal Revenue Bulletin, IRB-2015-24 [PDF 148 KB], establishes the permanent penalty relief program.


A pilot program was launched last summer when the IRS issued Rev. Proc. 2014-32, whereby eligible small businesses could avoid penalties by filing current and prior year forms. The requirements under the pilot program included:

  • Plan administrators and sponsors who did not file an annual Form 5500 series return could face penalties of up to $15,000 per return.
  • Businesses that had already been assessed a penalty for late filings were not eligible for this program.
  • The pilot program was open only to retirement plans generally maintained by certain small businesses, such as those in an owner-spouse arrangement or eligible partnership.
  • Multiple late retirement plan returns could be included in a single submission.
  • If a retirement plan had delinquent returns for more than one plan year, penalty relief could be available for all of these returns.
  • Delinquent returns for more than one plan could be included in a single penalty relief request.
  • No filing fee was charged during the pilot program.

Permanent program

Rev. Proc. 2015-32 states that the permanent program generally follows the requirements of the pilot program. As was the case under the pilot program, businesses that have already been assessed a penalty for late filings are not eligible for the penalty relief program.

The IRS also made some changes to the permanent program—including amendments that reflect comments received in response to the pilot program—such as:

  • There is now a payment requirement of $500 per submission for each delinquent return for each plan, up to a maximum of $1,500 per plan.
  • Applicants generally must submit the delinquent return on Form 5500-EZ that applied for the plan year for which the return was delinquent.
  • Delinquent returns for each plan must be submitted separately. Multiple delinquent returns for a single plan are to be submitted in a single package. Delinquent returns for different plans must be submitted in different packages.

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