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I live in the United States and have a small unincorporated business. I have no employees and I am single. I have a 401(K) and a Roth 401(K) through E*Trade. Between the two accounts I have a little over 200K in them.

I have not been filing form 5500 for these plans and I believe I do not have to. Do I?

I believe that when the balance in these plans reaches 250K, I do. Is that correct?

If you think I have to file the form, please comment on the following URLs from employeefiduciary.com and nolo.com

However, if you look at the Department of Labor's site, you will see the following:

Section 1: Who Must File

A return/report must be filed every year for every pension benefit plan, welfare benefit plan, and for every entity that files as a DFE as specified below (pursuant to Code section 6058 and ERISA sections 104 and 4065). If you are a small plan (generally under 100 participants at the beginning of the plan year), you may be eligible to file the Form 5500-SF instead of the Form 5500. For more information, see the instructions to the Form 5500-SF.

What is a DFE?

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    Is this a Solo 401(k) plan that is administered by E*Trade or a regular 401(k) plan in which you are the employer, employee (and sole participant) as well as the plan administrator? As I remember, there was a Form 5500-EZ (instead of the full-blown Form 5500) hat needed to be filed by plans with assets under 250K, or maybe by plans with just one participant. Dec 21, 2019 at 2:17
  • This is a Solo 401(k) plan that is administered by E*Trade.
    – Bob
    Dec 21, 2019 at 14:42
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    @Bob Is there anywhere that suggests you still need to file if your total balance is below $250k?
    – Craig W
    Dec 21, 2019 at 16:26
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    If you will just read the contents of the first link that you have provided, you might just notice that the FAQ says that one-participant Solo 401(k) plans that have less than $250K in assets at the end of the calendar year need not file even Form 5500-EZ for that year, and when the assets grow above that limit, Form 5500-EZ must be filed, not the full-blown Form 5500 which is a lot more paperwork. Dec 21, 2019 at 17:11
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    @Bob In the bottom link, look under "Do Not File a Form 5500 for a Pension Benefit Plan That Is Any of the Following": "11. A 'one-participant plan,' as defined below. However, certain one-participant plans are required to file the Form 5500-EZ, Annual Return of One-Participant (Owners and Their Spouses) Retirement Plan with the IRS or may file the Form 5500-SF, Short Form Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan, electronically with EFAST2." Then the instructions for Form 5500-EZ will tell you not to file if plan assets are under $250k.
    – Craig W
    Dec 21, 2019 at 17:46

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No, you don't have to file any Form 5500 unless it's the plan's final year.

In the Form 5500 instructions, under "Do Not File a Form 5500 for a Pension Benefit Plan That Is Any of the Following", it lists:

  1. A “one-participant plan,” as defined below. However, certain one-participant plans are required to file the Form 5500-EZ, Annual Return of A One-Participant (Owners/Partners and Their Spouses) Retirement Plan or A Foreign Plan, with the IRS or may file the Form 5500-SF, Short Form Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan, electronically with EFAST2.

In the Form 5500-EZ instructions, under "Who Does Not Have To File Form 5500-EZ", it says:

You do not have to file Form 5500-EZ for the 2018 plan year for a one-participant plan if the total of the plan's assets and the assets of all other one-participant plans maintained by the employer at the end of the 2018 plan year does not exceed $250,000, unless 2018 is the final plan year of the plan.

Since your total balance is around $200k you are exempt.

The Form 5500-SF instructions also exempt "one-participant plans" from filing.

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