The coalition opposing legislation that threatens small business privacy is growing stronger. Last week, 48 business groups, led by NFIB, called on the leaders of the Senate Banking Committee to reject the invasive provisions of S. 2563, the ILLICIT CASH Act. You can read the letter here.

As it explained, Title IV of the Senate proposal requires small businesses to collect ownership information that previously has been collected under the Bank Secrecy Act by large banks – organizations that have the staffing and expertise to handle the reporting requirements, but can be burdensome, duplicative, and complex for small business owners.

Were the Senate bill to become law, millions of small businesses would face a new obligation to file paperwork with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). The forms would disclose sensitive, personal information on anyone with a 25 percent or greater stake in the operation or significant control responsibilities in the business. These reports would have to be updated to reflect changes of address or passport number expiration, and new forms must be filed within 90 days of any ownership change. NFIB’s analysis found businesses would spend 13.2 million hours filling out these forms initially.

As often happens with FinCEN’s sister agency, the Internal Revenue Service, forms that might seem simple in theory can become incredibly complex in practice. Failure to file completed and updated forms could subject business owners to the possibility of staggering civil penalties that can reach a maximum of $10,000 in fines and criminal penalties of up to 4 years in prison under the bill.

Similar legislation has already passed in the U.S. House of Representative, making it vital that small business owners contact their senators before it’s too late. You can read more about the legislation and stay current on the issues on NFIB’s Protect Small Business Privacy page.

To contact you senators and tell them what you think of the ILLICIT CASH Act, click here.

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