Corporate Transparency Act Developments: Alabama’s Court Ruling and What It Means for Real Estate Investors

The Corporate Transparency Act (CTA), established under the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020, aims to curb illegal financial activities through enhanced transparency measures. Its intent is to peel back the layers of anonymity often exploited by money launderers and others engaged in illicit activities, disclosing the identities of the individuals who ultimately own or control legal entities. It mandates corporate entities to report details of their beneficial owners to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Understanding the Corporate Transparency Act is especially relevant to real estate investors who frequently utilize intricate corporate structures in their transactions.

A recent landmark decision by a federal district court in Alabama has once again placed the CTA in the spotlight. The court ruled that the CTA’s mandates exceeded Congress’s constitutional powers and declared the act unconstitutional. This decision casts doubt on the future of compliance obligations across the broader corporate landscape.

For real estate investors, the ruling raises questions about whether they need to continue following established CTA ownership reporting rules. Currently, only the parties in the lawsuit are affected, but many foresee the issue eventually working its way up to the Supreme Court. With the chance for future court cases, responses from regulatory bodies, and court appeals, investors should watch for further updates to understand how it might affect their reporting requirements.

Implications of the Alabama Court Ruling

The March 1st court ruling on the CTA may initially seem advantageous for real estate investors desiring confidentiality. However, the swift response from the federal government to appeal underscores the potential disruption and uncertainty resulting from this decision.

If the court’s ruling stands, it may create a regulatory environment that is more favorable to investors seeking anonymity and confidentiality in corporate reporting. However, if the ruling is overturned or revised, companies found to be in violation of the CTA may face significant consequences, including penalties and reputational damage.

Here’s what real estate investors should consider as they navigate the landscape in 2024 and beyond.


Following the Alabama court’s decision to deem the CTA unconstitutional, FinCEN has clarified that this specific injunction applies only to the plaintiffs in the case, not broadly to all entities​​. This implies that entities not directly involved in the case are still required to comply with the CTA’s mandates. FinCEN’s commitment to enforcing the CTA against other entities remains unchanged, signaling the importance of maintaining compliance. Furthermore, with the Department of Justice appealing the ruling to the 11th Circuit, the legal status of the CTA could change, further emphasizing the need for ongoing compliance​​.

Anticipate Future Developments

Given the dynamic legal landscape, entities should closely monitor the developments around the CTA, especially the outcomes of the government’s appeal​. The appellate process, which may extend to the Supreme Court or result in legislative amendments, adds layers of complexity and uncertainty. Businesses should be especially vigilant about any similar lawsuits in other jurisdictions and any potential legislative adjustments aimed at addressing the court’s concerns​.

Plan for Reporting Obligations

The current CTA implementation schedule requires entities formed after January 1, 2024, to report beneficial ownership information to FinCEN within 90 days of formation. Entities formed or registered before this date have until January 1, 2025, to comply​. As these deadlines approach, entities should ensure they have systems in place for collecting, verifying, and reporting beneficial ownership data accurately. Reviewing FinCEN’s frequently asked questions webpage will help ensure full compliance with the CTA​​.

It’s worth noting that there is a list of exceptions and exemptions to the reporting requirement, such as entities already subject to regular AML program requirements​. Here are the exceptions that real estate professionals should keep in mind:

  • Tax-exempt entity exemption: Applies to organizations recognized under specific sections of the tax code (501(c), 527(e)(1), and 4947(a)), excluding homeowners associations, which must report to FinCEN due to not being covered under Section 528.
  • Inactive entity exemption: This may apply to entities existing before January 1, 2020, not actively engaged in business, without foreign ownership, with no ownership changes in the past year or transactions over $1,000 in 12 months, and holding no assets. This exemption may be relevant for certain real estate investments and syndications.
  • Large operating companies exemption: Requires having 21+ employees in the U.S., over $5 million in U.S. gross receipts or sales, and a physical U.S. office. Entities meeting these criteria are exempt from reporting beneficial ownership information (BOI) to FinCEN, though aspirational financial goals alone do not qualify for exemption.

Seek Professional Guidance

Navigating the complexities of the CTA, particularly in light of the Alabama court ruling and subsequent legal challenges, underscores the value of seeking professional guidance. Legal and financial advisors can provide tailored advice, helping real estate professionals stay compliant while strategically navigating the evolving regulatory landscape. As new developments arise from the appeal process or potential legislative amendments, professional guidance will be extremely useful in adapting compliance strategies to meet any shifts in requirements​​.


The recent ruling by the Alabama court regarding the CTA indicates a significant, though somewhat ambiguous, change for real estate investors. This dynamic scenario demands vigilant monitoring of legal developments and a flexible approach to strategy adjustments. As events continue to evolve, it is imperative for investors to stay well-informed and seek expert advice to adeptly manage the impact of these changes.

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