A recent report of U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) audit results contained some surprising statistics: almost 3 out of 4 audits find violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and the average cost for a plan to correct them, including fines and penalties, is $450,000. The DOL’s ERISA audit force will expand to include over 1000 investigators and audit activity will be increasing.
Plan administrators often prepare for IRS audits by doing their own plan compliance audits to identify problems to correct. However, we hear less frequently about clients preparing for a possible DOL audit, even though these audits are becoming more common. DOL audits could be triggered by answers on Form 5500 or employee complaints, or be the result of random selection.
Many plan sponsors have been busy managing their business, with little time for their company retirement plan. As regulations continue to increase and DOL audits increasing now is not the time to ignore this important employee benefit.
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