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Getting Ready for Your Plan Census

Published by Kim Moore on Dec 30, 2021 6:00:00 AM

One of the first tasks that you will have to complete in the new year is to prepare for your 401(k) Plan Census and answer your year-end questionnaire. These requests will come from your record-keeper. We wanted to rerun the blog below to help you get ready for these tasks a little early.

The Plan Census

At the beginning of the year, your recordkeeper will routinely ask you to prepare or review something called a Plan Census. Hopefully, they provided instructions along with this request, but if you need some help, this blog post will provide some additional information for you.

The Census contains information for each employee of the company including their:

  1. Name
  2. Date of birthCensus review
  3. Date of hire
  4. Termination date (if applicable)
  5. Hours worked
  6. Compensation
  7. As well as any amounts contributed to the 401(k) Plan during the year.

Additional Information

The specific provider may request additional information depending on the nature of your Plan provisions. The data is compiled based on the year-end information from the prior year. This data is used by the provider to complete the annual discrimination testing required by the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Labor standards. This testing is very important to ensure the Plan remains qualified.

Census Accuracy

To ensure the accuracy of the Plan Census, Plan Administrators can complete a reconciliation of the compensation amounts to the year-end payroll data; review random employee data and compare to the employee Human Resources file to ensure accuracy; and examine the overall data for inconsistencies such as employees that remain active with the company but have no compensation or employees with participant 401(k) contributions but no related employer match contributions.  


It is important to verify the information before you send it to the record-keeper and it will be much more efficient to review it at the beginning of the process instead of rushing through it and finding errors in your discrimination testing. This will require rework and may add to your Plan fees from the recordkeeper for repeated testing.


Timing of completion of the Census is also very important. Any corrective action needed from the discrimination testing must be completed by specific dates (March 15th is a common due date for standard 401(k) Plans). Failure to complete this action timely, can incur additional “late” fees to the company and additional administrative work for you so pay attention to the dates given to you by the recordkeeper to avoid these headaches.

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At Summit CPA we know that Plan administration can be a huge burden to companies especially with all the complexities added due to the pandemic. However, don’t let your guard down regarding your 401(k) Plan. It is an important responsibility of the Plan fiduciaries to ensure compliance at all times. A review of current compliance and administration now will help make things a little less stressful. For more information on how we can help, contact our office at (866) 497-9761

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