FinCEN, the Treasury Department’s online federal business registry, mandates many small business owners register their personal information.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Treasury Department opened its Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) online registry on Monday to crack down on financial crimes despite objections from lawmakers who say many small businesses are unaware of the reporting requirements.

FinCEN – part of the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) – requires some companies with 20 or fewer employees and under $5 million in revenue to provide information about their beneficial owners, including board members, senior management and legal representation. Beneficial owners must submit their full legal name, date of birth, current residential or business address and identifying numbers from an acceptable ID document, like a passport. They must also provide information about the company, such as name and address. Companies created on or after Jan. 1 are also required to provide information about the person who formed the company.

Existing businesses have one year, until Jan. 1, 2025, to file their initial report, while new companies must file within 90 days of creation or registration. The Treasury Department said they expect about 32 million reporting companies in the first year and then 5 million each year thereafter.

“Corporate anonymity enables money laundering, drug trafficking, terrorism and corruption. It harms American citizens and puts law-abiding small businesses at a disadvantage,” U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen said. “Having a centralized database of beneficial ownership information will eliminate critical vulnerabilities in our financial system and allow us to tackle the scourge of illicit finance enabled by opaque corporate structures.”

In mid-December, Florida Sen. Rick Scott was among the many lawmakers who urged Yellen to delay FinCEN reporting requirements. They said a National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) survey found 90% of respondents were unaware of the requirements.

“Even more concerning is that the CTA has civil and criminal penalties of up to $10,000 and two years of jail time for failure to comply,” they said. “This lack of awareness and education is alarming and must be addressed before the law is implemented.”

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Author: amyc