The U.S. Treasury recently enacted a new reporting requirement aimed at quashing illicit financial transactions. The agency believes that corporate anonymity is enabling money laundering, terrorism, and drug trafficking. As part of the 2021 Corporate Transparency Act (CTA), certain companies are now required to report information about their beneficial owners. The goal of the new registration requirements is to create a centralized database of beneficial ownership information.
There has been push-back from some lawmakers and small business organizations, citing this as an erroneous regulatory process that just makes life harder for small businesses. Efforts to carve out exceptions or delay the implementation failed. As a result, the Treasury Department officially opened beneficial ownership information reporting on Jan. 1, 2024.
Who is Subject to Reporting?
Generally, a company may need to report beneficial ownership information if it is a corporation, LLC, or other business entity created by the filing with a U.S. secretary of state or a foreign company registered to do business in the United States. Reporting requirements for trusts and other entity types are more dependent on state law.
At first glance, the rules make it look like all businesses are subject to reporting. There are exemptions, however, including nonprofits, publicly traded companies, and certain large operating companies. The FinCEN’s Compliance Guide provides an exemption qualification checklist.
Reporting Timelines and Requirements
First, you only must file an initial report once. There are no annual reporting requirements. Filing deadlines vary based on when a company was created or registered with the relevant secretary of state.
- Before Jan. 1, 2024, => Deadline of Jan. 1, 2025
- Between Jan. 1, 2024, and Jan. 1, 2025, => You have 90 calendar days after receiving notice of the company’s creation or registration to file.
- On or after Jan. 1, 2025, => Deadline is 30 calendar days from the company’s creation or registration.
While there is no annual filing requirement, filing updates are necessary within 30 days of any changes. Ownership activity subject to change reporting includes registering a new business name, a change in beneficial owners, or a beneficial owner’s name, address, or unique identifying number previously provided.
What Do You Need to Report?
Beneficial ownership reporting must identify the following data.
At the company level, it must report:
- Company name, both legal and trade (if applicable)
- Company physical address (no post office boxes)
- Jurisdiction of formation or registration
- Taxpayer Identification Number
For each beneficial owner, the following must be reported:
- Date of birth
- Driver’s license, passport, or other acceptable identification
Depending on the situation, there also may be reporting requirements about the company applicant. This is generally a person involved in the creation or registration of the company. The same four pieces of data as for a beneficial owner would need to be provided.
As a general rule, a beneficial owner is someone who controls the company or owns 25 percent or more.
No financial information or details about the business operations are required.
How and Where to File
You have the option to file online or via PDF. Filing online can be done through the Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) E-Filing System on the FinCEN site.
There is no cost to file.
Conclusion and Cautions
While the reporting is simple, the requirements should not be taken lightly. Failure to report could result in civil penalties of up to $500 per day and criminal charges of up to two years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.
The message is this: Don’t wait – and don’t forget to file!