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UPDATE: Reporting time is almost here. See this information to determine your business’s responsibilities.

On September 30, 2022, the U.S.’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued its final rule on Beneficial Ownership Information Reporting Requirements, mandated by the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA). The rule aims to combat money laundering and terrorism by collecting and maintaining Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) for U.S. businesses. It addresses the use of corporate structures, such as Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) by illicit actors and aligns with international efforts to combat unlawful activities. The rule outlines reporting requirements, including who must report and the violation consequences that are costly (like $500/day!).

The current U.S. framework for combating money laundering and terrorism has shortcomings, making it attractive for illicit actors to create hidden shell companies. The final rule requires new covered businesses to submit timely BOI reports to FinCEN within 90 days of establishment. Existing businesses have until January 1, 2025, to submit their initial reports. Accuracy and updated information are emphasized.

Reporting companies must include specific information in their initial reports, such as legal name, trade name, address, jurisdiction of formation, and EIN or TIN. They must also provide details of each beneficial owner and company applicant, including full names, dates of birth, addresses, unique identifying numbers, and images of identification documents. Corrected and updated information must be reported later.

The final rule defines a “beneficial owner” as an individual who exercises substantial control over the reporting company or who owns at least 25% of the company (ownership interest). Exceptions to the definition include minor children, nominees, intermediaries, custodians, agents, employees, individuals with future inheritance interests, and creditors. If no exceptions apply, beneficial owners can be identified based on substantial control and ownership interests. The rule provides indicators of substantial control and clarifies the definition.

Businesses must determine if they are considered reporting companies for purposes of the final FinCEN BOI rule. Domestic reporting companies include corporations, LLCs, or entities created by filing documents with a secretary of state or similar office. Foreign reporting companies are entities formed under foreign law and registered to do business in a state or tribal jurisdiction. The rule does not add exemptions beyond the 23 specified in the CTA.

Companies must also determine the extent of their reporting obligations and maintain a record of changes in company applicant information. The definition of a company applicant is limited to one or two persons. Additionally, existing companies are exempt from providing applicant information, but new companies must comply.

Complying with the final rule may be challenging, because it involves analyzing multiple individuals with ownership interests and substantial control. FinCEN has not imposed limits on the number of beneficial owners to be reported to create a comprehensive database.

Small businesses may benefit from legal counsel to navigate and comply with these measures.

Special thanks to our Attorney Ruth Stein, for culling the research.

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