Starting January 1, 2024 – Banks & Financial Institutions To Report Beneficial Ownership Information Of Entity Accountholders
The Federal government in its efforts to crack down on illicit finance and enhance transparency on September 29, 2022 issued a final ruling establishing a beneficial ownership information reporting requirement, pursuant to the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA). This rule will require most corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities created in or registered to do business in the United States to report information about their beneficial owners – the persons who ultimately own or control the company – to the United States Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
Designed to protect U.S. national security and strengthen the integrity and transparency of the U.S. financial system, FINCEN stated that this ruling will help to stop criminal actors, including oligarchs, kleptocrats, drug traffickers, human traffickers, and those who would use anonymous shell companies to hide their illicit proceeds.
“For too long, it has been far too easy for criminals, Russian oligarchs, and other bad actors to fund their illicit activity by hiding and moving money through anonymous shell companies and other corporate structures right here in the United States,” said Acting FinCEN Director Himamauli Das. “This final rule is a significant step forward in our efforts to support national security, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies in their work to curb illicit activities. The final rule will also play an important role in protecting American taxpayers and businesses who play by the rules, but are repeatedly hurt by criminals that use companies for illegal reasons.”
The CTA broadly defines a “reporting company” as any corporation, limited liability company, or other similar entity created by filing a document with the secretary of state or similar office in any state or territory or with a federally recognized Indian Tribe, or formed under the laws of a foreign country and registered to do business in the United States.
Entities Not Required To Be Reported
There are certain entities that are excepted from being reported: (1) entities in certain regulated industries that already are subject to beneficial ownership reporting, (2) publicly traded companies, (3) investment vehicles operated by investment advisors, nonprofits, and government entities, and (4) “qualified exempt entities”. A “qualified exempt entity” is an entity that (a) employs more than 20 employees; (b) filed in the previous year a tax return demonstrating more than $5 million in gross receipts or sales; and (c) has an operating presence at a physical office within the United States.
Beneficial Owners and the Information to Report
The CTA defines a “beneficial owner” of an entity as any individual who, directly or indirectly, (1) exercises substantial control over the entity or (2) owns or controls not less than 25% equity in the entity. The rule expressly excludes certain individuals from the definition of beneficial ownership, including (1) a minor child (as long as the child’s parent’s or guardian’s information is reported); (2) an individual acting as an intermediary or agent on behalf of another; (3) a person whose control over a reporting company derives solely from their employment; (4) an individual whose only interest in a reporting company is through a right of inheritance; or (5) a creditor of a reporting company (unless they qualify as a “beneficial owner” through substantial control or equity ownership).
What Information Gets Reported
In each report to FinCEN, a reporting company must provide each beneficial owner’s name, date of birth, residential or business address, and a unique identifying number from an acceptable identification document (such as a state driver’s license or passport).
Effective Date Is January 1, 2024.
The rule is effective January 1, 2024. Reporting companies created or registered before January 1, 2024, will have one year (until January 1, 2025) to file their initial reports, while reporting companies created or registered after January 1, 2024, will have 30 days after creation or registration to file their initial reports. Once the initial report has been filed, both existing and new reporting companies will have to file updates within 30 days of a change in their beneficial ownership information.
The reporting rule is one of three rulemakings planned to implement the CTA. FinCEN will engage in additional rulemakings to: (1) establish rules for who may access beneficial ownership information, for what purposes, and what safeguards will be required to ensure that the information is secured and protected; and (2) revise FinCEN’s customer due diligence rule. In addition, FinCEN stated it continues to develop the infrastructure to administer these requirements, including the information technology system that will be used to store beneficial ownership information in accordance with the strict security and confidentiality requirements of the CTA.
Penalties for Violating CTA
Willfully providing false information to FinCEN or failing to report complete information to FinCEN can result in fines up to $10,000 and imprisonment for up to two years. However, the CTA contains a safe harbor from such civil and criminal liability for the submission of inaccurate information if the person who submitted the report voluntarily and promptly corrects the report within 90 days.
Don’t Take The Chance And Lose Everything You Have Worked For.
Protect yourself. You can expect the laws regarding customer due diligence requirements for financial institutions will also be updated to conform to the CTA as the CTA will be providing a new means for a financial institution to verify a customer’s “Know Your Customer” information. If you are selected for an audit, stand up to the IRS by getting representation. Tax problems are usually a serious matter and must be handled appropriately so it’s important to that you’ve hired the best lawyer for your particular situation. The tax attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), Los Angeles and elsewhere in California are highly skilled in handling tax matters and can effectively represent at all levels with the IRS and State Tax Agencies including criminal tax investigations and attempted prosecutions, undisclosed foreign bank accounts and other foreign assets, and unreported foreign income. Additionally, if you are involved in cannabis, check out what a cannabis tax attorney can do for you. And if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.