The IRS has issued proposed regulations relating to the submission of Form 8955-SSA and automatic extensions of the time to file this Form.  Effective for any automatic extension filed on Form 5558 on or after June 21, 2012, any application for extension for the Form 8955-SSA will not require a signature.  This is a slight simplification to the overall extension filing procedure for qualified retirement plans that had previously required a signature for extensions of time to file Form 8955-SSA, which is generally prepared in conjunction with the preparation of a plan’s Form 5500, but not for extensions of time to file the Form 5500 itself. 

The Form 8955-SSA is the stand-alone Form that replaced the prior Form SSA attachment to the Form 5500 filing for qualified retirement plans in 2009, and it relates to the reporting and notice requirements for deferred vested benefits.  When the Form 8955-SSA was introduced, the regulations under the Code Section governing the reporting and the instructions for Form  5558 required a signature for an application for an extension for a Form 8955-SSA filing.  This requirement differed from the requirements that applied for extensions of the Form 5500 itself.  Automatic extension of the time to file the Form 5500 is and has been granted via application on Form 5558, which does not have to be signed by the plan sponsor or plan administrator.  Although the Form 5500 and Form 8955-SSA filings are separate, this nonetheless created divergent procedures for retirement plan filers who had previously not had to sign any extension applications on Form 5558.  For plans administrators that use a third-party to prepare and submit their Form 5500, this meant that while the Form 5500 extension would happen automatically without any action on their part because the third-party would often file the automatic extension on Form 5558, a signature was required on a separate Form 5558 to extend the Form 8955-SSA. 

Commentators voiced concerns to the IRS that the signature requirement for the Form 8955-SSA extension was likely to cause confusion and missed deadlines because it differed from the rule for the Form 5500 extension, and suggested that the signature requirement was burdensome for both filers and the IRS because the requirement complicates the extension request process.  The IRS acquiesced and issued today’s proposed regulations removing the signature requirement for extensions of Form 8955-SSA filed on Form 5558.  The regulations are proposed, though taxpayers can rely on them for any Form 5558 filing made on or after June 21, 2012.  This is a small bit of simplification from the IRS, and for any calendar year plan filers who had not yet made a Form 5588 extension filing for the 2011 plan year, this now removes any need for the plan administrator to sign a separate filing for the Form 8955-SSA. 

The proposed regulations can be found as published in today’s Federal Register here.