Nearly three months from the effective date of its beneficial ownership reporting rule, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) released guidance for small businesses to determine whether they must comply and what information they might be required to provide.
The resource, published by FinCEN on Monday, is an effort by the agency to reduce concerns among small businesses regarding the rule, which is set to take effect Jan. 1. Reports have indicated the agency might still make changes to reporting requirements following backlash received in response to its finalized rule put forward in September 2022.
The goal for FinCEN is to make compliance for small businesses “as simple as possible,” said FinCEN Director Andrea Gacki in a press release. Reporting costs and time to submit paperwork are two areas where the agency has projected the potential for significant hurdles.
The rule will require certain companies to file beneficial ownership information with FinCEN. The registry is designed to assist FinCEN and law enforcement in understanding who owns corporations and shell companies to help locate and capture parties responsible for money laundering, financing terrorist groups, and other financial crime.
The small business guidance released by FinCEN is broken up into six sections, each seeking to help companies determine the rule’s relevance to their operations and what is being asked of them. It addresses what businesses qualify for exemptions, how and when to report company applicants, and explains the process for filing information with the agency.
The guidance reminds there is a safe harbor that exists if a person believes a filed report contains inaccurate information and voluntarily submits a correction within 90 days of the deadline for the original report. Willful violations of the rule could result in civil or criminal penalties, including against senior officers of a company.