If you’re reading this, then you should be safe from a new law that can cost less-tech savvy business owners a cool $15,000.

As widely reported a couple of weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Labor is requiring all businesses with a pension plan and/or a 401k to file certain forms via e-mail or face a $15,000 penalty. It seems draconian, and for the few out business owners out there who still don’t know an AOL from a hole in the ground, it is. But as of Jan. 1, the DOL is determined to going "paper-less". Thus, for the 2009 Plan year, all forms must now be submitted to the DOL electronically – no exceptions.

Brett Goldstein, president of Plainview, NY-based The Pension Department, estimates that as many as 28% of small businesses don't use e-mail and could risk being penalized. While that percentage seems unfathomable, there are a bunch of older business owners that never got with this new-fangle Internet thing, not to mention orthodox Amish, who might more likely ride to the next trade show on a Segway, than sift through an In Box laden with Spam.

What makes the DOL rule all-the-more taxing is that Goldstein says an owner deficient of e-mail access can’t rely on his more proficient tax preparer to tile the form 5500 for him, because the electronic file must be protected, not shared. Insult to injury: Those that are most likely to be impacted missed the DOL’s memo because it was sent electronically.

Good luck telling that to the judge.

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