The new reporting rules apply to all MEPs, including those 401(k) MEPs run by PEOs and payroll companies.  This will have a significant impact on these types of arrangements:  now that each participating employer name and EIN will be listed in the Form 5500, one would expect these plans to see substantially increased audit activity from both the DOL and the IRS.  Prior to this rule, only the Lead Employer in a MEP would (as a practical matter) be audited.

In addition to what will amount to increased MEP costs and increased MEP scrutiny will be, most likely, an unintended consequence.......increased marketing to and selling to adopting employers of MEPs.  A common area of mining for attractive potential new business is via the 5500 filings.  Up until now, one of the benefits of adopting an MEP is that the 5500 was filed as a group, but the members of the group all remained individually veiled.  So while these new reporting requirements will almost certainly lead to increased scrutiny from the DOL and IRS, it will also almost certainly lead to increased selling against the MEPs to the various adopting employers simply by being unveiled to the general public.  Time will tell, but very interesting developments to keep an eye on especially if any "Open MEP" legislation gets passed in the next year or two.

- Jason