Preparing 5500 electronic returns (including batch processing)

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Follow this procedure to ensure that you have entered all data specifically required for electronic returns and to create the electronic file for one client or for multiple clients (batch processing).

  1. Enter the client's tax data as usual, making sure you adhere to the guidelines for entering data.
  2. Choose View > Diagnostics to review the diagnostic messages in the Federal Diagnostics window. Click any item displayed in the window to open the corresponding screen to address the diagnostic message. Verify that you have cleared all Critical and ELF Critical diagnostic messages and have reviewed the FYI diagnostic messages and then close the Federal Diagnostics window.
  3. Click the Electronic Filing folder to open Screen ELF.
  4. Complete the applicable signer's User ID and PIN fields, or select the applicable website signers on Screen ELF.


    • If you use the Service Provider Designation option, review the text in the Service Provider Designation section on Screen ELF for information about the Department of Labor (DOL) requirements for filing returns using this option.
    • The User ID and PIN should be the final data entry before you create the electronic file. If you enter data on any other input screen after you enter the User ID and PIN, UltraTax CS automatically deletes the data in the User ID field and the PIN field.
    • For further information, see Signing 5500 electronic returns.
  5. Choose File > Print Returns, or click the Print Print button button to open the Print Returns dialog.
  6. Mark the Government copy and the Create electronic file checkboxes.


    • To create the return or check the return for electronic filing errors without printing forms, mark only the Government copy and Create electronic file checkboxes in the Print Returns dialog
      • To check for errors without creating the electronic file, click the Check E-File button.
      • To check for errors and create the electronic file, click the E-File button.
    • If you use a third-party application vendor to transmit returns, mark the Create 3rd Party Efile checkbox to create the electronic file. The third-party vendor is responsible for checking for errors.
    • If you selected Benefit Plans (EZ) as the type of entity in the Client Properties dialog, UltraTax CS will not create an electronic file. Form 5500-EZ must be submitted on paper to the Internal Revenue Service.
  7. To create electronic files for multiple clients at the same time, click the Clients button and select the appropriate clients.
  8. Click the Preview button to view the return on screen, or click the Print (or E-File) button. When you click the Preview or Print button, UltraTax CS checks for errors in the electronic file.

    Note: You must click the Print or E-File button in the Print Returns dialog to create the electronic file. If you click the Print Preview button in the toolbar or click the Check E-File button or Preview button in the Print Returns dialog, UltraTax CS does not generate the electronic file.


  • When UltraTax CS creates electronic files, the application automatically deletes any untransmitted electronic files previously created for the selected clients.
  • If you use a third-party application vendor to transmit 5500 returns, UltraTax CS places the electronic file in the location you specified in the Setup > User Preferences > File Locations tab. See Changing the location of electronic files for third-party application vendor transmissions for more information.
  • If you use a third-party application vendor to transmit 5500 returns, UltraTax CS creates the electronic file without checking for errors when you print the return. The third-party application vendor checks for errors.
  • The Department of Labor (DOL) does not require that any additional paper forms be filed when electronically filing 5500 returns.

For information about resolving electronic filing errors and rejections, see the E-File Help Center > Resolving E-File Errors > 5500 Benefit Plans page.

Related topic: Creating the 5500 electronic file and correcting errors overview

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