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Senior Business Development Executive, TMF Group
Published
22 June 2023
Read time
5 minutes

The US Corporate Transparency Act: what does it mean for your business?

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Taking effect from the beginning of 2024,  the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) will create the first robust and comprehensive database of beneficial ownership information in the US. Aimed at preventing corrupt business practices, such as money laundering and the financing of terrorism, it will provide essential information to law enforcement agencies.

The beneficial ownership disclosure rules apply to domestic and foreign entities, registered at secretary of state level or any similar office under the laws of a state or Indian tribe. These rules will affect a huge volume of entities, and businesses must do all they can to ensure compliance.

Aligning with international practices

Enhancing beneficial ownership transparency across and between jurisdictions – to clearly identify who owns, controls and benefits from companies’ activities – has been a major focus of many jurisdictions around the globe. At least 30 countries have already implemented some form of central register of Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI). With the enactment of the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) into law on 1 January 2021, and the establishment of its final regulations, the US now joins global efforts to promote financial transparency. This step aims to enhance national security and provide critical information to law enforcement agencies and the intelligence community.

When will the new CTA rules come into effect?

The final rules came into effect from 1 January 2024. Companies formed after that date now have 90 days after creation (instead of 30) to submit initial BOI reports. Companies formed before the effective date now have until 1 January 2025 to file their BOI reports. Companies who experience a change in beneficial ownership (including change of name, address, etc) after having filed their BOI reports, must report the change within 30 days.

Which companies are required to report?

The majority of reporting companies are corporations, limited liability companies, or entities that are created by the filing of a document with the secretary of state or a similar office under applicable state law, including Indian tribes. The rules include existing and future domestic and foreign companies.

This regulation identifies 23 types of exempt entities:

  1. securities reporting issuers
  2. governmental authorities
  3. banks
  4. credit unions
  5. depository institution holding companies
  6. money service businesses
  7. brokers or dealers in securities
  8. securities exchanges or clearing agencies
  9. other Exchange Act registered entities
  10. investment companies or investment advisers
  11. venture capital fund advisers
  12. insurance companies
  13. state licensed insurance producers
  14. commodity Exchange Act registered entities
  15. accounting firms
  16. public utilities
  17. financial market utilities
  18. pooled investment vehicles
  19. tax-exempted entities
  20. entities assisting a tax-exempt entity
  21. large operating companies
  22. subsidiaries of certain exempt entities
  23. inactive entities.

What information must be reported?

Reporting companies are required to provide the Financial Crimes Enforcement network (FinCEN) with beneficial owner information.

  1. The reporting company itself: full legal name, business address, jurisdiction of formation or registration and Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). Foreign reporting companies are permitted to provide their foreign tax identification number, when they do not have a US TIN.
  2. Each beneficial owner of the reporting company and the reporting company’s company applicant: full legal name, date of birth, current residential or business street and unique identifying number from an acceptable identification document; when a US identification number is not available, a valid non-US passport will be acceptable.

Who are the beneficial owner(s) and company applicants?

A beneficial owner is any individual who, directly or indirectly, either exercises substantial control over such a reporting company or owns or controls at least 25% of the ownership interests of such a reporting company. It is important to highlight that, even if there is no one individual with 25% of the ownership interest, at least one person with substantial control is expected to file the report.

The final rule added clarifications that significantly expanded the concept of beneficial ownership established in the Customer Due Diligence rule. For example, an individual that serves as a senior officer in the reporting company has the authority to appoint and remove senior officers of the reporting company, or has substantial influence over important decisions by the company and is considered to have a form of substantial control.

For trustees, the final rule identifies three circumstances in which ownership interests held in trust will be considered as owned or controlled by a beneficiary:

  • a beneficiary who is the sole permissible recipient of trust income and principal, or who has the right to demand distribution or withdraw substantially all of the assets of the trust; 
  • a trustee of the trust or other individual with authority to dispose of trust assets; or
  • a grantor or settlor who has the right to revoke the trust or otherwise withdraw the assets of the trust.

When it comes to company applicants, the beneficial owner is the individual who directly files the document to create or register the reporting company and, where there is more than one individual involved in such filings, it defines it as the individual who is primarily responsible for directing or controlling such filing.

Are there penalties for non-compliance?

Penalties for non-compliance are severe, including fines and possible imprisonment for up to two years.

Who has access to the database of beneficial owner information?

Beneficial owner information will be used only for statutorily authorised purposes and will be subject to strict use and security protocols. FinCEN will promulgate appropriate protocols for protecting the security and confidentiality of that information. Unauthorised use or disclosure of BOI may be subject to criminal and civil penalties.

How can TMF Group help?

Contact TMF Group’s US-based entity management services team to find out how we can help your company meet its obligations under the new US UBO regulations, and to stay up-to-date with all other aspects of your US entity governance. Make an enquiry with us today and we can help you further understand and discuss the impact of the requirements.

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