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  • Writer's picturechristinehogan33

The Corporate Transparency Act: New Reporting Requirements for Businesses

  

In a world where transparency and accountability are increasingly valued, governments worldwide are implementing measures to combat illicit financial activities and enhance corporate transparency. The United States, in particular, has taken a significant step forward with the enactment of the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA). This landmark legislation, enforcement began on January 1, 2024, aims to enhance beneficial ownership transparency and mitigate the misuse of corporations for illicit purposes. For businesses operating in the U.S., understanding and adhering to the provisions of the CTA is crucial.


The Corporate Transparency Act, enacted as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, represents a significant shift in U.S. anti-money laundering (AML) regulations. The primary objective of the CTA is to combat money laundering, terrorism financing, and other illicit activities facilitated by anonymous shell companies. To achieve this, the CTA mandates certain companies to disclose information about their beneficial owners to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.


Key Provisions of the Corporate Transparency Act:

(1)   Beneficial Ownership Reporting: Covered companies, including corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), and other similar entities, are required to report information about their beneficial owners to FinCEN. Beneficial owners are individuals who directly or indirectly own or control at least 25% of the ownership interests in the company or exercise substantial control over the entity.

 

(2)   Reporting Requirements: Companies must submit beneficial ownership information, including the full legal name, date of birth, address, and a unique identifying number (such as a driver's license or passport number) for each beneficial owner. Additionally, companies must report any changes in beneficial ownership within a specified timeframe.

 

(3)   Due Dates: Reporting must be made within 90 days of formation, if the entity is formed after January 1, 2024. Entities already in existence as of January 1, 2024 have one full year to comply with the new law. Beginning January 1, 2025, the report is due within 30 days of formation.


(4)   Exemptions and Exceptions: Certain entities, such as publicly traded companies, financial institutions, and non-profit organizations, are exempt from the reporting requirements. However, exceptions may apply based on specific criteria outlined in the legislation.


Penalties for Non-Compliance

          While it is too early to determine how violations and penalties will be treated on a practical basis, the CTA authorizes civil penalties up to $500 per day for each day a violation continues or has not been remedied. The CTA also authorizes criminal penalties, including imprisonment.

 

Steps for Ensuring Compliance:

(1)   Conduct a Comprehensive Review: Begin by identifying whether your company falls within the scope of the Corporate Transparency Act. Review your corporate structure and ownership arrangements to determine if you meet the criteria for reporting beneficial ownership information.

 

(2)   Gather Necessary Information: Collect accurate and up-to-date information about your beneficial owners, including their full legal names, dates of birth, addresses, and identification numbers. Ensure compliance with data privacy regulations when collecting and storing this sensitive information.

 

(3)   Establish Robust Record-Keeping Practices: Maintain detailed records of beneficial ownership information and any changes or updates to ensure compliance with reporting requirements. Implement secure data management systems and protocols to safeguard sensitive information from unauthorized access or disclosure.

 

(4)   Stay Informed & Adapt: Keep on top of updates and guidance issued by regulatory authorities regarding the implementation and interpretation of the Corporate Transparency Act. Be prepared to adapt your compliance measures accordingly to remain in compliance with evolving regulatory standards.

 

 

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