Tax Deadlines and Important Dates for Plan Sponsors in 2021

employees discussing in conference room


A new year means a new calendar, which means a whole new set of important dates for brokers to familiarize themselves with. For 2021, as in years past, there are tax deadlines and important dates for plan sponsors to keep track of.

Here are some of those key dates to help brokers stay organized as a new year unfolds.

Tax Deadlines

Tax season comes around quick once the new year kicks off. Brokers should keep these deadlines in mind for the 2021 tax season:

  • February 1, 2021 - Employers must file copies of their Form W-2 (Wage and Tax Statements) and W-3 (Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements).
  • February 1, 2021 - Employers must deliver Form W-2s, 1099-MISC, 1099-NEC and Nonemployee Compensation forms to employees.

Note that these deadlines normally fall on January 31st, but since January 31st falls on a Sunday in 2021, the deadline is the next business day: February 1st.

Abiding by these deadlines is critical in the IRS’s ability to detect fraud. Reminding your employers of these deadlines helps them support the process and avoid penalties.

Form 5500 Deadlines

The Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan form reports information on the qualification of your plan, its condition and its operation. This form ensures your clients remain compliant with ERISA and Internal Revenue Code reporting requirements.

The Form 5500 must be filed electronically on the last day of the seventh month after the plan year ends. If your clients operate on a calendar year plan, the form needs to be filed by July 31st, 2021.

401(k) Census Data Deadlines

Confirming 401(k) census data makes sure that all data is accurate for compliance testing. This is a critical factor in your clients maintaining their investment options, so it’s important to note the following dates:

  • January 15th, 2021 - 401(k) plan managers confirm the census data for the prior year.
  • February 15th, 2021, - Compliance testing takes place based on census data provided in the previous month.
  • August 15, 2021 - Mid year compliance testing for those who did not pass the February 15th compliance testing or would like to repeat the compliance testing for another reason.

There are important details and instructions about 401(k) census data that should be noted -- you can find more details here.

Employer Contribution Deadlines

If your clients make matching contributions to 401(k) contributions, there are additional deadlines to keep in mind. If the employer doesn’t choose to make contributions each payroll period, the full matching contribution needs to be made no later than the federal income tax return due date.

If your clients are operating under the standard tax calendar, their matching contributions must be made by April 15th, 2021. But if they are filing for a tax extension, the due date for contributions is October 15th, 2021.

While there are plenty of other dates brokers should be mindful of, these tax and plan sponsor deadlines are among the most important ones for keeping clients on track and compliant.