Judge Rules Corporate Transparency Act Unconstitutional, For Now | MinuteBox Cloud Entity Management

Judge Rules Corporate Transparency Act Unconstitutional, For Now

The Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) was enacted on January 1, 2024. The authors of the CTA decreed a mandate that requires all qualifying business entities to submit beneficial ownership information (BOI) reports to the Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

Two months later, on March 1, 2024, a US District Judge in Alabama ruled on a case brought before the court by the National Small Business Association (NSBA), an organization representing over 65,000 small business entities across the United States. The judge ruled that the CTA is “unconstitutional” and that lawmakers overstepped their bounds.

What is the purpose of the Corporate Transparency Act?

The CTA is part of a broader government effort to crack down on white-collar crime. US federal agencies and financial institutions annually identify unlawful transferrences of capital through money laundering or corporate sponsorship of international terrorism — actions that, in the government’s opinion, undermine national security.

As a result, the CTA gives FinCEN greater authority and oversight of suspected culprits of these crimes. Qualifying business entities must provide detailed BOI reports to FinCEN, which will store those records in secure databases and use them to monitor suspicious financial activities.

What were the details of the Alabama case?

The NSBA challenged the legal authority of the CTA and took the government to court seeking a summary judgment. Federal District Judge Liles C. Burke in Alabama issued a 53-page opinion about the case, which a Forbes contributing writer dissects in detail.

At the heart of the lawsuit is the fact that legal entities in the United States register with individual states where they choose to operate. The incorporation of those entities is a matter for the states to decide, along with the ability to prosecute those businesses for suspected financial crimes.

The NSBA argued that the CTA gives the federal government’s national security and foreign affairs matters the right to interfere with how individual states regulate businesses. Additionally, they argued that limited liability corporations (LLCs) may engage in interstate commerce, but not all entities pursue these opportunities.

The CTA requires all entities — even those that never cross state jurisdictions — to abide by the federal government’s mandate. Judge Burke ruled these grounds warranted an unconstitutional ruling of the CTA, though the federal government launched an appeal to the Eleventh Circuit.

Who is a beneficial owner under the CTA?

Within the CTA is specific language that defines a beneficial owner. According to the CTA, a beneficial owner is anyone who — directly or indirectly — maintains a 25% ownership interest in a corporate entity. Additionally, a beneficial owner is anyone who — again, directly or indirectly — maintains substantial control over business operations through voting rights.

Shareholders who fit the profile of a beneficial owner must provide their personal information — name, address, and a government-issued identification number — to the entity management department. That data is then processed and submitted to FinCEN as a BOI report.

Are some entities exempt from BOI reporting requirements?

The CTA allows authorities to gather beneficial ownership information from thousands of legal entities. However, FinCEN has detailed 23 types of legal entities that are exempt from the BOI reporting requirements.

Most exemptions revolve around the financial sector in the form of banks, credit unions, venture capital firms, depository institutions, or money services businesses. Government authorities, public utilities, and securities exchanges are also exempt from reporting BOI data to FinCEN.

What does the Alabama case ruling mean for BOI reporting?

So, what does the NSBA case against the Treasury Department mean for the future of BOI reporting requirements? There are two key takeaways from the case.

Firstly, Judge Burke clearly stated in his ruling that the injunction against the CTA only applies to businesses enrolled in the NSBA before March 1, 2024. Businesses that are registered members of the NSBA have a temporary pause on compliance with the CTA while the case is under appeal at the Eleventh Circuit.

For most businesses, the ruling has no impact whatsoever. FinCEN requires BOI reports from entities registered on or after January 1, 2024, within 90 days of receiving their articles of incorporation. Any entities registered before January 1, 2024, have until January 1, 2025, to submit their BOI reports to FinCEN.

How to prepare your BOI reports for FinCEN

While many entities still have several months to submit their BOI reports to remain in compliance with the CTA, it’s best to start gathering that information now. It’s much more effective for your entity management team to have all the information they need well in advance of the deadline to avoid last-minute scrambles and gaps in required data.

Intuitive entity management software can assist your legal and compliance departments with these tasks. Platforms like MinuteBox include pre-built templates and guided widgets that help your teams build detailed reports. The technology saves valuable working time and makes the process of gathering, filing, and securing entity management data quick and painless.

Additionally, you can use the platform’s Corporate Transparency Register to comply with all obligations under the CTA. Here, you can build detailed shareholder ledgers and create a comprehensive list of all beneficial owners with significant controlling interest in the company.

Once the data is in the platform, you can easily create detailed minute book records of all beneficial owners. Since the information is stored in your platform, filing and submitting the BOI reports to FinCEN is a breeze.

Prepare your legal entity for the next step of beneficial ownership reporting. Join the MinuteBox revolution today, and stay ahead of the game while maintaining compliance.