Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen receives a briefing during a visit...

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen receives a briefing during a visit to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) in Vienna, Va., Jan. 8, 2024. The National Small Business Association has won a court challenge against the Corporate Transparency Act, a law designed to combat money laundering. A federal court in Alabama on Friday ruled the legislation unconstitutional. The Corporate Transparency Act requires businesses to report owners and beneficial owners to an agency called the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. Credit: AP/Susan Walsh

NEW YORK — The National Small Business Association has successfully challenged a law designed to combat money laundering but that small businesses contend is too burdensome.

A federal court in Alabama on March 1 ruled that the Corporate Transparency Act is unconstitutional.

The law requires businesses to report owners and beneficial owners to an agency called the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. The aim was to cut down on shell corporations and money laundering.

Small business advocates say the reporting requirements are too onerous — and an example of congressional overreach. An estimated 32 million small businesses must register personal information with FinCEN, such as a photo ID and home address.

The Alabama case applies specifically to the 65,000-plus members of National Small Business Association, the nation's oldest advocacy group for small businesses, which is the plaintiff in the case. The Justice Department on Monday said it is appealing the ruling.

Deadlines to report the information have already been pushed back: to Jan. 1, 2025, from Jan. 1, 2024 for existing businesses, while businesses that were created after Jan. 1 have 90 days to comply.

“The CTA has from the very beginning been poor policy that unfairly targets America’s small businesses,” said Todd McCraken, president and CEO of the NSBA. “This ruling justifies the concerns of millions of American businesses about how the CTA is not only a bureaucratic overreach, but a constitutional infringement.”

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