FinCEN Updates Frequently Asked Questions on Beneficial Ownership Information
For purposes of the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) effective January 1, 2024, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has recently updated its Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) Frequently Asked Questions. Beginning on January 1, 2024, many companies in the United States will have to report information about their beneficial owners—the individuals who ultimately own or control the company, under the CTA. Companies will be able to begin reporting beneficial ownership information to FinCEN at that time. Below are the updated FAQs:
A. 4. How will companies become aware of the BOI reporting requirements?
FinCEN is engaged in a robust outreach and education campaign to raise awareness of and help reporting companies understand the new reporting requirements. That campaign involves virtual and in-person outreach events and comprehensive guidance in a variety of formats and languages, including multimedia content and the Small Entity Compliance Guide, as well as new channels of communication, including social media platforms. FinCEN is also engaging with governmental offices at the federal and state levels, small business and trade associations, and interest groups.
FinCEN will continue to provide guidance, information, and updates related to the BOI reporting requirements on its BOI webpage, www.fincen.gov/boi. Subscribe here to receive updates via email from FinCEN about BOI reporting obligations.
B. 8. Who can file a BOI report on behalf of a reporting company, and what information will be collected on filers?
Anyone whom the reporting company authorizes to act on its behalf—such as an employee, owner, or third-party service provider—may file a BOI report on the reporting company’s behalf. When submitting the BOI report, individual filers should be prepared to provide basic contact information about themselves, including their name and email address or phone number.
C. 5. Does the activity or revenue of a company determine whether it is a reporting company?
Sometimes. A reporting company is (1) any corporation, limited liability company, or other similar entity that was created in the United States by the filing of a document with a secretary of state or similar office (in which case it is a domestic reporting company), or any legal entity that has been registered to do business in the United States by the filing of a document with a secretary of state or similar office (in which case it is a foreign reporting company), that (2) does not qualify for any of the exemptions provided under the Corporate Transparency Act. An entity’s activities and revenue, along with other factors in some cases, can qualify it for one of those exemptions. For example, there is an exemption for certain inactive entities, and another for any company that reported more than $5 million in gross receipts or sales in the previous year and satisfies other exemption criteria. Neither engaging solely in passive activities like holding rental properties, for example, nor being unprofitable necessarily exempts an entity from the BOI reporting requirements.
C. 6. Is a sole proprietorship a reporting company?
No, unless a sole proprietorship was created (or, if a foreign sole proprietorship, registered to do business) in the United States by filing a document with a secretary of state or similar office. An entity is a reporting company only if it was created (or, if a foreign company, registered to do business) in the United States by filing such a document. Filing a document with a government agency to obtain (1) an IRS employer identification number, (2) a fictitious business name, or (3) a professional or occupational license does not create a new entity, and therefore does not make a sole proprietorship filing such a document a reporting company.
F. 7. Does a reporting company have to report information about its parent or subsidiary companies?
No, though if a special reporting rule applies, the reporting company may report a parent company’s name instead of beneficial ownership information. A reporting company usually must report information about itself, its beneficial owners, and, for reporting companies created or registered on or after January 1, 2024, its company applicants. However, under a special reporting rule, a reporting company may report a parent company’s name in lieu of information about its beneficial owners if its beneficial owners only hold their ownership interest in the reporting company through the parent company and the parent company is an exempt entity.
F. 9. Have I met FinCEN’s BOI reporting obligation if I filed a form or report that provides beneficial ownership information to a state office, a financial institution, or the IRS?
No. Reporting companies must report beneficial ownership information directly to FinCEN. Congress enacted a law, the Corporate Transparency Act, that requires the reporting of beneficial ownership information directly to FinCEN. State or local governments, financial institutions, and other federal agencies, such as the IRS, may separately require entities to report certain beneficial ownership information. However, by law, those requirements are not a substitute for reporting beneficial ownership information to FinCEN.
G. 5. How does a company created or registered after January 1, 2024, determine its date of creation or registration?
The date of creation or registration for a reporting company is the earlier of the date on which: (1) the reporting company receives actual notice that its creation (or registration) has become effective; or (2) a secretary of state or similar office first provides public notice, such as through a publicly accessible registry, that the domestic reporting company has been created or the foreign reporting company has been registered.
FinCEN recognizes that there are varying state filing practices. In certain states, automated systems provide notice of creation or registration to newly created or registered companies. In other states, no actual notice of creation or registration is provided, and newly created companies receive notice through the public posting of state records. FinCEN believes that individuals who create or register reporting companies will likely stay apprised of creation or registration notices or publications, given those individuals’ interest in establishing an operating business or engaging in the activity for which the reporting company is created.
H. 3. Is an updated BOI report required when the type of ownership interest a beneficial owner has in a reporting company changes?
No. A change to the type of ownership interest a beneficial owner has in a reporting company—for example, a conversion of preferred shares to common stock—does not require the reporting company to file an updated BOI report because FinCEN does not require companies to report the type of interest. Updated BOI reports are required when information reported to FinCEN about the reporting company or its beneficial owners changes.
H. 4. If a reporting company needs to update one piece of information on a BOI report, such as its legal name, does the reporting company have to fill out an entire new BOI report?
Updated BOI reports will require all fields to be submitted, including the updated pieces of information. For example, if a reporting company changes its legal name, the reporting company will need to file an updated BOI report to include the new legal name and the previously reported, unchanged information about the company, its beneficial owners, and, if required, its company applicants.
A reporting company that filed its prior BOI report using the fillable PDF version may update its saved copy and resubmit to FinCEN. If a reporting company used FinCEN’s web-based application to submit the previous BOI report, it will need to submit a new report in its entirety by either accessing FinCEN’s web-based application to complete and file the BOI report, or by using the PDF option to complete the BOI report and upload to the BOI e-Filing application.
H. 5. Can a filer submit a late updated BOI report?
An updated BOI report can be submitted to FinCEN at any time. However, the reporting company is responsible for ensuring that updates are filed within 30 days of a change occurring. If a reporting company has engaged a third-party service provider to file BOI reports and updates on its behalf, then it should communicate any changes to its beneficial ownership information to the third-party service provider with enough time to meet the 30-day deadline.
H. 6. If a reporting company last filed a “newly exempt entity” BOI report but subsequently loses its exempt status, what should it do?
A reporting company should file an updated BOI report with FinCEN with the company’s current beneficial ownership information when it determines it no longer qualifies for an exemption.
K. 2. What penalties do individuals face for violating BOI reporting requirements?
As specified in the Corporate Transparency Act, a person who willfully violates the BOI reporting requirements may be subject to civil penalties of up to $500 for each day that the violation continues. That person may also be subject to criminal penalties of up to two years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000. Potential violations include willfully failing to file a beneficial ownership information report, willfully filing false beneficial ownership information, or willfully failing to correct or update previously reported beneficial ownership information.
K. 3. Who can be held liable for violating BOI reporting requirements?
Both individuals and corporate entities can be held liable for willful violations. This can include not only an individual who actually files (or attempts to file) false information with FinCEN, but also anyone who willfully provides the filer with false information to report. Both individuals and corporate entities may also be liable for willfully failing to report complete or updated beneficial ownership information; in such circumstances, individuals can be held liable if they either cause the failure or are a senior officer at the company at the time of the failure.
- i. Can an individual who files a report on behalf of a reporting company be held liable?
- Yes. An individual who willfully files a false or fraudulent beneficial ownership information report on a company’s behalf may be subject to the same civil and criminal penalties as the reporting company and its senior officers.
- ii. Can a beneficial owner or company applicant be held liable for refusing to provide required information to a reporting company?
- Yes. As described above, an enforcement action can be brought against an individual who willfully causes a reporting company’s failure to submit complete or updated beneficial ownership information to FinCEN. This would include a beneficial owner or company applicant who willfully fails to provide required information to a reporting company.
K. 4. Is a reporting company responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the information that it reports to FinCEN, even if the reporting company obtains that information from another party?
Yes. It is the responsibility of the reporting company to identify its beneficial owners and company applicants, and to report those individuals to FinCEN. At the time the filing is made, each reporting company is required to certify that its report or application is true, correct, and complete. Accordingly, FinCEN expects that reporting companies will take care to verify the information they receive from their beneficial owners and company applicants before reporting it to FinCEN.
K. 5. What should a reporting company do if a beneficial owner or company applicant withholds information?
While FinCEN recognizes that much of the information required to be reported about beneficial owners and company applicants will be provided to reporting companies by those individuals, reporting companies are responsible for ensuring that they submit complete and accurate beneficial ownership information to FinCEN. Starting January 1, 2024, reporting companies will have a legal requirement to report beneficial ownership information to FinCEN.
Existing reporting companies should engage with their beneficial owners to advise them of this requirement, obtain required information, and revise or consider putting in place mechanisms to ensure that beneficial owners will keep reporting companies apprised of changes in reported information, if necessary. Beneficial owners and company applicants should also be aware that they may face penalties if they willfully cause a reporting company to fail to report complete or updated beneficial ownership information.
Persons considering creating or registering legal entities that will be reporting companies should take steps to ensure that they have access to the beneficial ownership information required to be reported to FinCEN, and that they have mechanisms in place to ensure that the reporting company is kept apprised of changes in that information.
M. 7. Who can request a FinCEN identifier on behalf of an individual?
Anyone authorized to act on behalf of an individual may request a FinCEN identifier on the individual’s behalf on or after January 1, 2024.
FinCEN identifiers for individuals are provided upon request after the requesting party has submitted the necessary information. Obtaining a FinCEN identifier for an individual requires the requesting party to create a Login.gov account, which is tied to the individual receiving the FinCEN identifier. Individuals who receive a FinCEN identifier should ensure their login credentials, including email address and related multi-factor information associated with their Login.gov account, are saved for future reference.
N. 2. What type of evidence will a reporting company receive as confirmation that its BOI report has been successfully filed by a third-party service provider?
The BOI E-Filing application, available beginning January 1, 2024, provides acknowledgement of submission success or failure, and the submitter will be able to download a transcript of the BOI report. The reporting company will need to obtain this confirmation from the third-party service provider.
N. 3. Will a third-party service provider be able to submit multiple BOI reports to FinCEN at the same time?
Yes. Third-party service providers will be able to submit multiple BOI reports through an Application Programming Interface (API).