What is the Corporate Transparency Act and What does it Mean for Franchising?

Boi Report

When you franchise your business model, you are in effect helping people become entrepreneurs and open new businesses. As a new business owner, franchisees will need direction to make sure they are covering their bases when they file their new entity to purchase your franchise system. We recommend that you refer them to a third party attorney or entity formation group who can help take some of this burden off your shoulders. With that said, as the Franchisor, it is important to give the new business owner direction and awareness of what is out there and what they should be aware of when filing their new franchise business.

The Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) is a significant piece of legislation in the United States aimed at enhancing transparency in corporate ownership. Enacted as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, the CTA addresses concerns related to money laundering, terrorist financing, and other illicit activities facilitated by anonymous shell companies.


Historically, the United States has faced challenges in tracking and preventing financial crimes due to the ease with which individuals could establish anonymous companies. These entities, often referred to as shell companies, obscured the identities of their true owners, making it difficult for law enforcement and regulatory authorities to trace the flow of funds for illicit purposes. Recognizing this vulnerability, Congress introduced the Corporate Transparency Act to promote greater accountability and deterrence.

Key Provisions:

Reporting Requirements:

The cornerstone of the Corporate Transparency Act is the establishment of beneficial ownership reporting requirements for certain entities. Under the act, corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), and other similar entities must disclose information about their beneficial owners at the time of formation and promptly update this information if any changes occur.

Definition of Beneficial Ownership:

The CTA defines beneficial ownership as individuals who directly or indirectly exercise substantial control over a company or own or control at least 25% of the ownership interests. This definition is crucial in identifying the true individuals behind corporate entities.

FinCEN Database:

To facilitate compliance with the reporting requirements, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is tasked with creating and maintaining a confidential database containing the reported beneficial ownership information. This database is accessible to authorized government agencies and law enforcement personnel for investigative purposes.

Who Needs to Comply?

The Corporate Transparency Act primarily targets certain types of entities that are susceptible to misuse for illicit activities. The following entities are required to comply with the reporting requirements:

1. Corporations:

· Domestic and foreign corporations operating in the United States fall under the purview of the CTA.

2. Limited Liability Companies (LLCs):

· Both domestic and foreign LLCs are subject to the reporting requirements.

3. Similar Entities:

· Other entities that fall under the broad category defined by the act must also comply. This includes partnerships and other entities formed under state law that provide limited liability to their owners.

4. Exemptions:

· Some entities are exempt from the reporting requirements, such as publicly traded companies, certain financial institutions, and entities already subject to comprehensive reporting requirements.


Implications for Franchises and Businesses:

Increased Transparency:

One of the primary outcomes of the Corporate Transparency Act is the significant increase in transparency within the corporate sector. By requiring the disclosure of beneficial ownership information, the act aims to lift the veil of anonymity surrounding companies and expose the individuals controlling them.

Enhanced Due Diligence:

For businesses engaging with other entities, the CTA necessitates a more thorough due diligence process. Companies will need to verify the beneficial ownership information of their partners, customers, and other counterparties to ensure compliance with the law and mitigate the risk of unknowingly participating in illicit activities.

Compliance Costs:

While the act serves a vital purpose in preventing financial crimes, it comes with associated compliance costs for businesses. Entities subject to the reporting requirements must invest resources in gathering and updating beneficial ownership information, as well as ensuring that this information is accurately reported to FinCEN.

Enforcement and Penalties:

The Corporate Transparency Act establishes penalties for non-compliance and provides for both civil and criminal enforcement. Entities failing to comply with the reporting requirements may face fines, imprisonment, or both. Additionally, individuals knowingly providing false information or attempting to conceal ownership may be subject to severe penalties.

Privacy Concerns:

While the CTA is a crucial step in combating financial crimes, it has raised concerns about the privacy of individuals listed as beneficial owners. The act acknowledges these concerns and includes provisions to safeguard the confidentiality of the reported information, limiting access to authorized government agencies and law enforcement.

International Implications:

The Corporate Transparency Act aligns with global efforts to enhance transparency in corporate ownership. It brings the United States closer to international standards set by organizations such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which advocates for measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing on a global scale.

The Corporate Transparency Act represents a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to combat financial crimes and promote transparency in corporate ownership. By requiring entities to disclose their beneficial ownership information, the act aims to close loopholes that have allowed individuals to hide behind anonymous companies for illicit purposes. While compliance comes with costs, the long-term benefits in terms of enhanced national security and a more robust financial system make the Corporate Transparency Act a crucial development in the regulatory landscape. As businesses adapt to these new requirements, the overarching goal is to create a more accountable and secure environment for economic activities in the United States.


For more information on how to franchise your business, contact Franchise Marketing Systems (FMS Franchise): https://www.fmsfranchise.com/about-us/contact/

Fms Franchise