The Corporate Transparency Act: Enhancing Transparency and Combating Illicit Activities

June 28, 2024

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute legal advice. Please consult with an attorney.

The Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) is a groundbreaking piece of legislation enacted by Congress as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on January 1, 2021. The CTA aims to enhance the United States’ anti-money laundering laws and improve the country’s safeguards against illicit financial activities.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the key aspects of the Corporate Transparency Act, its reporting requirements, exemptions, compliance deadlines, and penalties for non-compliance. We will also delve into the implications of the CTA for domestic and foreign reporting companies, the definition of beneficial owners, and the storage and use of reported information.

What is the Corporate Transparency Act?

The Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) is an essential part of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 (AMLA) and amends the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), which has been instrumental in combating money laundering since its enactment in 1970. The CTA introduces new reporting requirements for covered “reporting companies” to disclose their beneficial ownership information to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the United States Treasury Department.

The CTA aims to address the issue of beneficial ownership concealment through shell companies, which can be exploited for illicit activities such as money laundering, terrorism financing, drug trafficking, and securities fraud. By establishing a national registry of beneficial owners, the CTA provides law enforcement agencies with a powerful tool to combat financial crimes.

Reporting Companies and Beneficial Owners

The CTA defines a reporting company as any domestic or foreign entity created by filing a document with a secretary of state or similar office, or formed under the laws of a foreign country and registered to do business in the United States. Non-US entities registered to do business in any US state are also subject to the reporting requirements.

A beneficial owner, as defined by the CTA, is an individual who directly or indirectly exercises substantial control over the reporting company or owns or controls at least 25 percent equity in the entity. It is important to note that the definition of substantial control is not explicitly provided in the CTA, leaving room for further clarification through regulations.

Certain individuals are excluded from the definition of beneficial ownership, including minor children (unless their parent’s or guardian’s information is reported), intermediaries or agents

acting on behalf of others, individuals whose control derives solely from their employment, individuals with ownership only through inheritance, and creditors (unless they have substantial control or equity ownership).

Reporting Deadlines and Compliance Dates

The reporting deadlines and compliance dates for filing beneficial ownership information reports depend on the formation or registration date of the reporting company. The CTA provides staggered compliance dates to accommodate both existing and newly formed entities.

For entities formed or registered before January 1, 2024, the initial Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) report must be filed by January 1, 2025. Entities created between January 1, 2024, and December 31, 2024, or registered to do business in any US state during the same period, must file the initial report within 90 calendar days of creation or registration.

Entities formed or registered on or after January 1, 2025, must file the initial BOI report within 30 calendar days of creation or registration.

It is essential to note that if a reporting company no longer meets the criteria for any exemption, it must file an initial BOI report within 30 calendar days of the date it no longer qualifies for the exemption.

Exemptions from Reporting Requirements

The CTA provides several narrow exemptions from the reporting requirements for certain entities. While exemptions vary, they generally exclude entities that are already subject to regulatory regimens that include beneficial ownership reporting or entities that fall under specific categories such as publicly traded companies, regulated financial institutions, investment vehicles operated by investment advisors, nonprofits, and government entities.

One notable exemption is the “large operating company” exemption, which applies to entities that employ more than twenty employees, filed a tax return demonstrating over $5 million in gross receipts or sales in the previous year, and have an operating presence at a physical office within the United States. Subsidiaries of exempt companies are also exempted from reporting requirements.

However, it is crucial to carefully assess the specific criteria for each exemption and determine whether an entity qualifies for an exemption on a case-by-case basis.

Filing and Updating BOI Reports

Reporting companies must file their initial BOI reports and any subsequent updates or corrections electronically through FinCEN’s system, which can be accessed via FinCEN’s website. The process does not involve any filing fees.

If there are changes in the reported information or the reporting company becomes aware of any inaccuracies, it must file an updated or corrected report within 30 calendar days of the change or discovery of the inaccuracy. This includes changes in beneficial ownership and eligibility for exemptions.

It is important for reporting companies to monitor their reporting obligations diligently and promptly update their information to ensure compliance with the CTA.

Storage and Use of Reported Information

FinCEN stores the reported beneficial ownership information in a secure private database. The information collected through the CTA’s reporting requirements is not publicly available.

Access to the information is limited to authorized entities, including federal law enforcement agencies, state, local, or tribal law enforcement agencies (with a court order), federal agencies on behalf of foreign countries (pursuant to international agreements), and financial institutions for customer due diligence purposes with the reporting company’s authorization.

The CTA also entails updates to customer due diligence requirements for financial institutions, aligning them with the CTA’s reporting regime and providing a new means for financial institutions to verify customer “Know Your Customer” information.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Non-compliance with the CTA’s reporting requirements can result in severe penalties. Willfully providing false or fraudulent information or failing to report complete information to FinCEN can lead to fines of up to $10,000 and imprisonment for up to two years.

However, the CTA includes a safe harbor provision that allows individuals who submit inaccurate reports to voluntarily and promptly correct them within 90 days, thereby mitigating potential civil and criminal liability.


The Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) represents a significant step in strengthening the United States’ anti-money laundering framework and combating illicit financial activities. By requiring reporting companies to disclose their beneficial ownership information, the CTA aims to enhance transparency and deter money laundering, terrorism financing, and other fraudulent activities.

Reporting companies must understand their obligations under the CTA, assess their eligibility for exemptions, and ensure timely and accurate filing of BOI reports. It is crucial to stay informed about the evolving guidance and regulations surrounding the CTA to maintain compliance and avoid severe penalties.

The implementation of the CTA marks a new era in corporate transparency, and its long-term impact on the financial landscape will only become more apparent as reporting requirements are implemented and enforcement efforts intensify.

All Blogs