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Treasury Officials Defend BOI Regulations Before House Panel

Following what was described as a successful launch of beneficial ownership information reporting requirements, officials from the Department of the Treasury found themselves before the House Financial Services Committee defending the regulations.

“The beneficial ownership registry successfully launched on January 1 this year,” Andrea Gacki, director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, said during a February 14 oversight hearing of the committee. “In the first week alone, more than 100,000 companies successfully filed their beneficial ownership information. And I am pleased to report that today, so far, FinCEN has received more than half a million reports successfully filed.”

Brian Nelson, Treasury undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, told the committee that there are 32 million companies that are expected to file a BOI report.

Gacki continued: “The now ongoing better collection of beneficial ownership information, paired with the forthcoming phased provision of access to the database by law enforcement and other authorized users will close what is long been identified as a gap in the United States anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism regime.”

Gacki and Nelson were put on the defensive during the hearing as committee members challenged them on the effect of the reporting requirements on small businesses.

She noted that FinCEN took steps to make sure the filing system is “workable for small businesses,” including making it simple with the ability to complete in 20 minutes without the need to seek professional help that could end up costing a small business more money.

Nelson also emphasized that Treasury is using all available tools to spread the word of the filing requirements and offer guides on how to file.

“We recognize that a number of these small businesses have never heard of FinCEN, so there’s a big educational campaign,” he said, adding that the agency is working on a solution for those unable to file BOI electronically, such as businesses in Amish communities.

Gacki also stressed that if there are issues related to filing, FinCEN is not looking to take action against those who are simply having trouble filing their BOI report.

“I want to stress that, when it comes to enforcement, the statute is clear,” she said. “We can only take enforcement action for willful violations. We are not out to take ‘gotcha’ enforcement actions. We want to educate about the requirement.”

AICPA Calls For Suspension Of BOI Reporting Requirement

Despite the efforts FinCEN and the broader Treasury department are making to educate the public on the BOI reporting requirements, the American Institute of CPAs is calling for the suspension of BOI reporting requirements.

In a February 13, 2024, letter to the leadership of the House Financial Services Committee and the Senate Banking Committee, AICPA stated the BOI reporting rule “should be suspended until the small business community is considered well-informed of their requirement to report BOI information to FinCEN and the outstanding questions by the financial professionals who serve this community have been answered.”

AICPA stated that small businesses “should have a reasonable chance at compliance” in addition to a timeframe to gain awareness of the requirements. “To comply and provide the information necessary, small businesses need additional time to work through these and other questions that have not been answered in the six weeks this rule has been in effect. We urge you to suspend the rule and give small entities the time necessary to work through this requirement so we can best support the small business community.”

By Gregory Twachtman, Washington News Editor

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