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Warning – Determine if Your IRA Processor Has Prepared Some of Your Institution’s 5498 Forms Incorrectly

Posted by James M. Carlson
Jun 07 2016

An IRA custodian called CWF with the following situation/question. Jane Doe has her own personal traditional IRA and she has an inherited traditional IRA arising from her mom. The IRA processor prepared just one combined 2015 Form 5498. Is this correct or permissible?

It is incorrect. Two 5498 forms must be prepared. It is understandable why a software engineer would think that it is better and simpler if just one form 5498 record is prepared rather than multiple forms. It is not simpler. The IRS rules do not permit aggregation of the data when there are multiple IRA plan agreements. The IRS has had the rule for a long time that contributions, distributions and fair market value statements are prepared and reported on a per plan agreement basis.

IRA tax data may be aggregated on a per IRA plan agreement basis, but it is not permissible to aggregate data from multiple IRA plan agreements. For example, Jane Doe age 53 has IRA Plan #1 and makes three $2,000 contributions for tax year 2015 on 3/10/15, 9/10/15 and 3/1/16 and she made a rollover contribution from a 401(k) plan to IRA Plan #1 of $12,000 on 6/10/15 and another rollover contribution from her 401(k) plan of $23,000 on 10/10/15. Box 1 will be completed with $6,000 and box 2 will be completed with $35,000.

As the discussion below illustrates, there is tax logic to the rule that there must be a separate IRA reporting form prepared on a per IRA plan agreement basis rather than allowing the reporting entity to aggregate the information and then furnish one form.

For example, Jane Doe has her own traditional IRA and she has has also inherited her mom’s traditional IRA. There must be two also separate 5498 forms prepared for her. For income taxation purposes she does not aggregate her IRA with the inherited IRA from her mother.

Preparation of a combined Form 5498 is a violation of IRS requirements. The IRS has the authority to assess a fine of $50 for each incorrect form and $50 for each missed form. Remember, the fines are doubled in the sense that one form goes to the IRS and one copy to the individual. Most likely the processor in its contract tries to have the IRA custodian be liable for this type of mistake. It’s CWF opinion that if the processor has written its software to not comply, it should be liable for any IRS fines.

What tax harm is being caused by such impermissible aggregation?

A person must do separate tax calculations for distributions from personal IRAs and inherited IRAs. This capability is lost if the data is aggregated.

If two 5498 forms both show a rollover contribution, most likely the IRS will determine that only one of them qualifies to be a rollover contribution because of the once per year rule and the other would be a taxable distribution. This audit capability is lost if there is just one combined Form 5498 prepared. The IRS prepares many statistical studies based on the info set forth on the 5498 forms. Many analytic capabilities are lost if there is not one Form 5498 prepared for each plan agreement.

Categories: Governmental Reporting, Pension Alerts, Traditional IRAs