Insights and Resources

The Corporate Transparency Act: A Double-Edged Sword for U.S. Businesses?

ARTICLE | March 12, 2024

In an effort to combat illicit activities such as money laundering, tax evasion, and human trafficking, the U.S. government enacted the Corporate Transparency Tax Act (CTA) in 2021. This groundbreaking legislation mandated Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) reporting for certain domestic and foreign entities, marking a significant shift in the U.S. financial regulatory landscape.

Something new...

The CTA's primary objective is to enhance transparency within businesses by requiring them to disclose information about their beneficial owners. This is fueled by the belief that such information can help thwart efforts by malicious actors to exploit the U.S. financial system for illicit purposes. However, a recent court ruling has put some aspects of this requirement into question, further complicating compliance efforts for businesses nationwide.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a department of the U.S. Treasury, is the custodian of BOI. This bureau collects and discloses BOI to authorized government authorities and financial institutions. Despite the complexity of the reporting process, noncompliance can lead to severe penalties, underscoring the need for businesses to fully understand their obligations under the CTA.

Companies that fall under the CTA's purview include corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), or any entity created by filing a document with a U.S. secretary of state or similar office. Also, any foreign entity registered to conduct business in the United States is required to comply with the BOI reporting mandate. However, the CTA does provide certain exemptions. Notably, large operating companies with at least 20 full-time employees, more than $5 million in gross receipts or sales, and a physical office within the United States are exempt.

The BOI reports require companies to disclose a range of information about their beneficial owners, defined as individuals who exercise substantial control over the company or own at least 25% of the company's ownership interests. The information required includes the individual's name, date of birth, address, and a unique identifying number from an acceptable identification document.

Despite these clear guidelines, a recent ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama has put the BOI reporting requirement under scrutiny. The court ruled the CTA unconstitutional, constituting Congressional overreach. While the ruling specifically applied to the plaintiffs, it has undoubtedly cast a shadow over the future enforcement of the CTA.

Nevertheless, FinCEN has reiterated that all entities not part of the lawsuit must continue to comply with the reporting requirements. This means that companies created or registered to do business before January 1, 2024, must file their initial BOI reports by January 1, 2025. Companies registered on or after January 1, 2024, will have 90 days from registration to file their initial reports.

Failure to comply with the BOI reporting requirements can lead to severe penalties, including civil penalties of $500 per day and criminal penalties that include up to two years of imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. This highlights the importance for businesses to understand their obligations under the CTA and to seek proper legal counsel to ensure full compliance.

In conclusion, the CTA represents an important step in the U.S. government's efforts to curb illicit activities within its financial system. However, the complexities and recent legal challenges surrounding BOI reporting underscore the need for businesses to stay informed and seek expert legal advice to navigate these uncharted regulatory waters.

Let's Talk!

Call us at +1 213.873.1700, email us at or fill out the form below and we'll contact you to discuss your specific situation.

  • Topic Name:
  • Should be Empty: