Corporate Transparency Act: What You Need to Know

Are you ready for the Corporate Transparency Act to take effect on January 1, 2024? This US law, passed in 2021, aims to combat money laundering and the use of shell companies to conceal illicit funds in the country. 

This act will help investigators like us better uncover fraud and criminal activity associated with the owners of a business.

Today, we'll explore more about Corporate Transparency Act regulations, its implications, and other critical information your business needs to ensure compliance. We’ll also talk about why transparency is so beneficial when businesses or individuals perform their due diligence before working with different vendors, businesses, and partners.

What is the Corporate Transparency Act?

The Corporate Transparency Act, or CTA, is a law that requires all companies registered to do business in the United States to submit information about themselves, their beneficial owners, and company applicants to a database managed by FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network). This includes both domestic and foreign-owned businesses operating within the US.

Although it was passed on January 1, 2021, it will take full effect on January 1, 2024. Companies registered before this date have until January 1, 2025, to provide the required information, while those registered after must do so within 30 days of registration.

Why was the Corporate Transparency Act enacted?

Before the passage of the CTA, many US states did not require businesses to disclose ownership information. This allowed criminals to easily misuse shell companies for illegal activities, such as money laundering and fraud. The CTA aims to address this issue by ensuring identifying information about business entities and their owners is readily available to law enforcement agencies. This way, tracing illegal activities back to specific individuals will be easier.

It also aims to promote transparency in business operations and prevent the misuse of shell companies for illicit purposes. By requiring companies to provide this information, it will be harder for criminals to hide their identities behind anonymous business entities.

What are the consequences of non-compliance?

Businesses registered to operate in the United States and meeting other qualifying criteria can face severe consequences for non-compliance with the CTA. Failure to provide the required information or unauthorized use/disclosure of information can result in fines of up to $10,000 and up to three years in prison for responsible individuals—clearly, not something to take lightly.

Why Corporate Transparency Matters

Now that you know more about this Act, let's discuss why corporate transparency is so crucial in the first place. At CS Business Screen, we're all about due diligence, and the information that individuals and businesses can collect with the help of the CTA is critical to providing you with what you need to know before entering into a partnership or conducting business with a company.

Transparency Builds Trust

Business relationships are built on trust, which is strengthened by transparency. By requiring companies to disclose their ownership information, the CTA promotes accountability and allows individuals to make more informed decisions about who they do business with.

Preventing Criminal Activities

As mentioned earlier, one of the primary goals of the CTA is to prevent the misuse of shell companies for illicit purposes. By requiring companies to provide ownership information, it will be harder for criminals to hide behind anonymous business entities and engage in illegal activities. This protection safeguards businesses from unwittingly participating in criminal activities and contributes to maintaining the safety of communities.

Promoting Fair Competition

Corporate transparency further promotes fair competition by ensuring all businesses adhere to the same standards. With access to ownership information, individuals can better differentiate between legitimate companies and those engaging in fraudulent practices. This creates a more level playing field for businesses and promotes a healthy and competitive market.

Transparency and Due Diligence

The more information you can collect about a company, the better equipped you are to make informed decisions. For example, knowing who owns and controls a company can verify its legitimacy and assess any potential risks or conflicts of interest. This allows for better due diligence practices and ultimately protects your own business interests.

Performing Due Diligence with CS Business Screen

To help with due diligence efforts, CS Business Screen offers several screening packages, including investor screening, vendor and partnership screening, customer screening, and international investigations.  

With access to a global network of proven and reliable data sources, CS Business Screen provides you with accurate and up-to-date information on companies and their ownership structures. This allows for more comprehensive due diligence. It also helps protect your business from potential risks or fraudulent activities.

Learn more about vendor background checks next. 

Corporate Transparency Act: FAQs

Finally, here are some common questions about the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA):

What impact will the CTA have on CS Business Screen's Due Diligence Investigations?

Transparency into a company's owners and ownership structure will further enhance our ability to locate the individuals behind a company. Our clients will now have an easier path to extending an investigation into the owners of a company and uncovering criminal, civil, financial and reputation history associated with the people who are running the business under investigation.

What is meant by corporate transparency?

Corporate transparency is the level of openness and disclosure of a company's operations, ownership, financial information, and other relevant data. It allows for greater accountability and trust between a company and its stakeholders.

What does BOI mean?

BOI stands for beneficial owner information. This refers to individuals or entities that ultimately own or control a company directly or indirectly. The CTA requires disclosing this information to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

Who is considered a beneficial owner of the company?

To be considered a beneficial owner, you would need to control 25% or more of the company's ownership interests, as stated by FinCEN.

Who is exempt from the beneficial ownership rule?

Some exemptions to the beneficial ownership rule exist. This includes companies already subject to rigorous reporting requirements, government entities, and certain financial institutions. For a complete list of the 23 entities (including banks and credit unions) that are exempt, please refer to FinCEN.

What is the 25% beneficial ownership rule?

The 25% beneficial ownership rule stipulates that an individual or entity must own at least 25% of a company's ownership interests to qualify as a beneficial owner under the CTA. This rule plays a crucial role in identifying and preventing anonymous ownership structures that could potentially facilitate illicit activities.

Check this out next: A Can't-Miss Due Diligence Checklist for Buying a Business.

Final Thoughts: Due Diligence with CS Business Screen

Whether you are a business owner or a potential investor, conducting due diligence is crucial in maintaining transparency and mitigating risks. With our help, one can easily access essential information about companies and their beneficial owners. Then, with this information on hand, informed decisions can be made to ensure the integrity and stability of the business. 

Remember, corporate transparency benefits individuals and contributes to a more secure and trustworthy business environment for all. 

Contact CS Business Screen today to learn more about our due diligence services and how we can empower your decision-making process. 

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