Overview: The Summary Annual Report (SAR) is a summary of the plan's annual report (Form 5500), which must be filed annually. Each plan participant and beneficiary receiving benefits through the employee benefit program must be provided with a copy of the SAR each year.
The SAR must be prepared and distributed to plan participants and beneficiaries no later than nine months after the end of the plan year. If a plan has an approved extension from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for filing the Form 5500, the SAR must be distributed within two months after the extended due date for filing the Form 5500.
It is important for employers to comply with the timing requirements associated with distributing the SAR. The Department of Labor (DOL) can assess a penalty of $110 per day for failure to respond to a request for a SAR. Willful violations could result in criminal penalties as well.
Tracy Morley, SPHR, Legal Editor
Updated to reflect increased ERISA civil penalties, effective August 1, 2016.
HR guidance on requirements for Summary Annual Reports and associated fines for noncompliance.