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s of Jan. 1, 2024, most business owners will have to file a report to FinCEN, the U.S. Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, an agency that protects the country’s financial system. The law, known as the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA), aims to bring much-needed transparency to the world of corporate ownership, making it harder for criminals to hide behind shell companies. Businesses can help contribute to an international effort to prevent financial crimes.

FinCEN can issue civil penalties of up to $500 for each day that a reporting company is in violation of the reporting requirements. Criminal penalties for willful violations include imprisonment of up to two years and fines of up to $10,000. Penalties may also apply to companies that have filed and failed to update inaccurate information.

Novo has partnered with LegalZoom to help your business file your Beneficial Ownership Information Report in a compliant and stress-free way.

Key takeaways about Beneficial Ownership Information Reporting:

  • The Corporate Transparency Act requires businesses to report beneficial ownership information to FinCEN, with certain exemptions.
  • It is important for businesses and financial institutions to understand their responsibilities under the act to ensure compliance and avoid potential penalties.
  • Financial institutions must verify customer ownership by collecting and managing beneficial ownership information data as per the legal requirements of the act.

The CTA’s reporting requirement applies to all businesses established in the United States and foreign-owned businesses registered to conduct business in the United States. However, some entities are exempt. Sole proprietorships and most general partnerships, for instance, are exempt from the reporting requirement because no formation document is required for these entities. In all, there are 23 types of exemptions, including publicly traded companies, tax-exempt nonprofits, and more.

Who is a beneficial owner?

A beneficial owner under the Corporate Transparency Act is an individual who directly or indirectly: (1) owns or controls at least 25% of your company’s ownership interests or (2) exercises substantial control over your business. Common examples of someone who exercises substantial control can include the following:

  • An important decision-maker for the reporting company
  • A senior officer (president, chief executive officer, chief financial officer, general counsel, chief operating officer, or any other officer with a similar function)
  • An individual with the authority to appoint or remove certain officers or a majority of directors (or similar body) of the company

How to file

To comply with the Corporate Transparency Act, companies must file their initial Beneficial Ownership Information Report electronically with FinCEN. 

Guaranteeing that your company’s beneficial ownership information is accurately reported is key to adhering to the act and avoiding potential liabilities. Understanding a new law that carries civil and criminal penalties, including imprisonment and fines, can be daunting. Eliminate the worry and risk of meeting this requirement with LegalZoom’s easy and accurate report filing

What to file

The Beneficial Ownership Information Report requires two main categories of information: company details and beneficial owner information.

You must provide the following company details about the company:

  • Legal name
  • Address
  • Employer identification number
  • Location where your company formed

And you must identify the beneficial owner’s:

  • Legal name
  • Date of birth
  • Home address
  • Identifying number from a government-issued document

Deadline for filing

The reporting deadlines for submitting initial Beneficial Ownership Information Report vary based on the company’s creation or registration date. Reporting companies created or registered prior to 2024 must submit their Beneficial Ownership Information Report by Jan. 1, 2025.

For companies created or registered during 2024, there is a 90-calendar-day period from the date of receiving actual or public notice to report their beneficial ownership information to FinCEN. Staying informed about these deadlines is important for guaranteeing timely compliance with the act’s reporting requirements.

How to report beneficial ownership revisions or updates

If you discover an inaccuracy in your filed Beneficial Ownership Information Report, you must submit a corrected report within 30 days of becoming aware of the error. Correcting errors promptly is important for maintaining compliance with the act and preventing potential penalties for noncompliance.

If your company experiences any changes in beneficial ownership information, you must submit an updated report to FinCEN within 30 days of the change. 


What is beneficial ownership information reporting?

As of Jan. 1, 2024, many business entities will have to file information about owners to FinCEN, the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, unless an exemption applies. LegalZoom can help your business file the report and stay in compliance.

Which types of businesses are required to file a Beneficial Ownership Information Report under the act?

All corporations (S corporation or C corporation) and limited liability companies (LLCs), as well as entities that have filed a document with the Secretary of State, are required to file a Beneficial Ownership Information Report under the act.

Who is exempt from the Corporate Transparency Act?

Public reporting companies, tax-exempt organizations, and companies included in a Federal reporting system, such as banks and broker-dealers are exempt from the Corporate Transparency Act. Partially owned subsidiaries or affiliates of public reporting companies may not be exempt.

What information is required in a Beneficial Ownership Information Report?

A Beneficial Ownership Information Report requires information about the company, such as its legal name, address, and jurisdiction of formation, as well as PII (Personally Identifiable Information) of each beneficial owner, including their legal name, birthdate, home address, and an identifying document and corresponding image.

Why use LegalZoom to file a Beneficial Ownership Information Report?

Understanding a new law that carries civil and criminal penalties, including imprisonment and fines, can be daunting. Eliminate the worry and risk of meeting this requirement with LegalZoom’s easy and accurate report filing.

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