Mastering Form 5500 Schedule H: Avoiding Audit Triggers

Financial Information Reporting Requirements, Identifying Valuation Challenges and Expanded Compliance Questions

Recording of a 110-minute CPE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Thursday, May 18, 2017
Recorded event now available

This webinar will provide employee benefits professionals and tax advisers with a practical and comprehensive guide to completing Form 5500, with a specific focus on Schedule H, Financial Reporting. The panel will offer specific guidance on completing the form, detailing the fair value calculations and helping navigate the potential future Compliance Questions of Part IV of the schedule. The panel will also discuss the pending changes to financial disclosures announced by the IRS and DOL in 2016, and prepare advisers to deal with new reporting requirements.


In 2016 the IRS, Department of Labor, and the PBGC proposed sweeping changes to the regulations governing the annual reporting of employee benefit plans on Form 5500. Among the key components of the proposed changes are a major increase in the number of plans that must file, and significant expansion of plan information disclosure requirements.

One change that will impact many plans is the expansion of disclosures on Schedule H, one of the most complex schedules in the EBP reporting regime. The Schedule currently requires employers with more than 100 employees maintaining a benefit plan to report the financial position of all funds and investments, and in the future may include a series of complicated Compliance Questions on Part IV. The proposed changes may expand the categories of asset classifications, as well as increasing the scope of the compliance questions.

The proposed changes also anticipate adding new schedules and narrowing the exemptions for small plans to report on Form 5500-SF. These revisions will result in an increased use of Form 5500 as a compliance tool by the IRS, DOL and PBGC. While comments to the proposed changes are still under review, both the IRS and DOL are advising plan sponsors and employers to prepare for expanded reporting of financial positions.

Listen as our experienced panel provides a thorough and practical guide to mastering Form 5500, with a specific emphasis on Schedule H Financial Reporting for Employee Benefit Plans, as well as the impact of proposed changes to Form 5500 filing requirements.


  1. Key Schedules to Form 5500
  2. Schedule H - Plan Asset Valuations on Part I
  3. Income and Expenses Reporting on Part II
  4. Accountant's opinion as an audit trigger
  5. Compliance Questions
  6. Proposed Changes to Form 5500


The panel will discuss these and other important issues and challenges:

  • What are the specific triggers for an IRS audit of Form 5500 Schedule H?
  • How excess amounts on Line 15 “Other Assets” increases the likelihood of a DOL audit
  • Valuation challenges and “good faith” standard
  • How the proposed changes to Form 5500 Schedule H will increase the reporting burden for both employers and plan sponsors
  • Addressing plan issues in Part IV Compliance Questions

Learning Objectives

After completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Identify difficult-to-value plan asset reporting on Part I Line 15
  • Determine the impact of proposed changes to Form 5500 filing requirements on specific plans
  • Recognize potential issues in reporting Fidelity Bond requirement
  • Distinguish risk areas in Part IV Compliance Questions
  • Decide when amendments or corrections to Schedule H may be necessary


Sharjeel Ahsan, CPA, MBA, Audit Senior Manager
McConnell & Jones, Houston

Mr. Ahsan has been instrumental in builing and leading the Firm’s Form 5500 preparation practice and has helped several clients through DOL & IRS voluntary compliance programs. He is a subject matter expert on Form 5500s and has more than 10 years’ experience in this area. He is also part of his Firm's ERISA Assurance and Compliance Services Team. He is responsible for managing his clients' employee benefit plan audits that range from regional non-profit organizations to large Fortune 500 public companies. The largest plan he manages consists of 63,000+ participants and approx. $5 Billion in net assets. He also manages certain non-profit and commercial audits.

John C. Hughes, Esq.
The ERISA Law Group, Boise, Idaho

Mr. Hughes focuses his practice in the area of ERISA/employee benefits. He represents clients nationwide relative to issues involving all kinds of employee benefit plans including 401(k), profit sharing, pension/defined benefit, 457, 403(b), nonqualified deferred compensation/409A, employee stock ownership (“ESOP”), governmental, 125/cafeteria, and health and welfare plans. He counsels clients on a broad spectrum of plan-related issues including compliance, fiduciary responsibilities, plan operations and administrative issues, plan corrections, plan design, mergers and acquisitions, litigation, and plan qualification. 

Stacey I. Snyder, CPA, QKA
Belfint Lyons Shuman, Wilmington, Del.

Ms. Snyder has experience in employee benefit plan audits and nonprofit audits. She regularly contributes to the firm’s employee benefit plan audit blog, The Art of the Qualified Plan Audit.  Her blog articles have been published in The National Institute of Pension Administrators newsletters. She has an Advanced Defined Contribution Plans Audit Certificate.

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