ERISA Penalties - ERISA confers substantial law enforcement responsibilities on the Department. Part 5 of Title I of ERISA gives the Department authority to bring a civil action to correct violations of the law, provides investigative authority to determine whether any person has violated Title I, and imposes criminal penalties on any person who willfully violates any provision of Part 1 of Title I.
EBSA has authority under ERISA Section 502(c)(2) to assess civil penalties for reporting violations. A penalty of up to $1,000 per day may be assessed against plan administrators who fail or refuse to comply with annual reporting requirements. Section 502(i) gives the agency authority to assess civil penalties against parties in interest who engage in prohibited transactions with welfare and nonqualified pension plans. The penalty can range from five percent to 100 percent of the amount involved in a transaction.
A parallel provision of the Code directly imposes an excise tax against disqualified persons, including employee benefit plan sponsors and service providers, who engage in prohibited transactions with tax‑qualified pension and profit sharing plans.
Finally, Section 502(l) requires the Department to assess mandatory civil penalties equal to 20 percent of any amount recovered with respect to fiduciary breaches resulting from either a settlement agreement with the Department or a court order as the result of a lawsuit by the Department.