As spring approaches, many companies are wrapping up their corporate audits and related tax returns and are beginning to focus attention on the audit of their employee benefit plans and related Form 5500 tax returns. To make this transition go as smooth as possible, it is important to appropriately plan the next few months coordinating the various information from the benefit plans’ service providers. The most important element to this process is effective communication.
Our experience in effective planning and communication is to get involved as auditors with the plan sponsor’s management team to lay out a timeline for the plan audit. As part of this timeline, due dates for information requests should be identified and agreed to by all service providers of the plan. This will lead to an effective, efficient and painless process of having the benefit plans audited and completed in a timely manner.
Some of the key players in a benefit plan audit are the auditor, the trustee holding the investments, the third-party administrator performing the recordkeeping and plan accounting, the claims administrator, and the actuary.
As spring approaches, a planning meeting with all parties involved is a best practice for easing the audit process and resulting in less disruption to your staff while providing the framework for a high-quality, effective audit.
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