Are Securities Exchanges and Clearing Agencies Exempt From The Corporate Transparency Act?

There are 23 separate exemptions from the CTA's beneficial ownership reporting requirement. The exemptions are listed in order in FinCEN's Final Rule at 31 CFR 1010.380 and take effect on January 1, 2024.

CTA Exemptions Generally

In general, the CTA exempts companies that already report their beneficial ownership to the U.S. government under a separate legal framework. FinCEN's Final Rule addresses each exemption separately in subsection 1010.380(c)(2).

Exemption Number 8 - Securities exchange or clearing agency

Subsection 1010.380(c)(2)(viii) of the Final Rule exempts:

(viii) Securities exchange or clearing agency. Any exchange or clearing agency, as those terms are defined in section 3 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78c), that is registered under sections 6 or 17A of that Act (15 U.S.C. 78f, 78q-1).

What's The Difference Between an Exchange and Clearing Agency?

Section 3 of the 1934 Act defines an “exchange” as:

any organization, association, or group of persons, whether incorporated or unincorporated, which constitutes, maintains, or provides a market place or facilities for bringing together purchasers and sellers of securities or for otherwise performing with respect to securities the functions commonly performed by a stock exchange as that term is generally understood, and includes the market place and the market facilities maintained by such exchange.

There are very few exchanges in the U.S. Prominent examples include the New York Stock Exchange and the NYSE American. The NYSE American was formerly known as the "American Stock Exchange" until its acquisition in 2008.

The 1934 Act defines “clearing agency” as:

any person who acts as an intermediary in making payments or deliveries or both in connection with transactions in securities or who provides facilities for comparison of data respecting the terms of settlement of securities transactions, to reduce the number of settlements of securities transactions, or for the allocation of securities settlement responsibilities. Such term also means any person, such as a securities depository, who (i) acts as a custodian of securities in connection with a system for the central handling of securities whereby all securities of a particular class or series of any issuer deposited within the system are treated as fungible and may be transferred, loaned, or pledged by bookkeeping entry without physical delivery of securities certificates, or (ii) otherwise permits or facilitates the settlement of securities transactions or the hypothecation or lending of securities without physical delivery of securities certificates.

The 1934 Act excludes from the definition of "clearing agency" (i) any Federal Reserve bank, Federal home loan bank, or Federal land bank; (ii) any national securities exchange or registered securities association solely by reason of its providing facilities for comparison of data respecting the terms of settlement of securities transactions effected on such exchange or by means of any electronic system operated or controlled by such association; (iii) any bank, broker, dealer, building and loan, savings and loan, or homestead association, or cooperative bank if such bank, broker, dealer, association, or cooperative bank would be deemed to be a clearing agency solely by reason of functions performed by such institution as part of customary banking, brokerage, dealing, association, or cooperative banking activities, or solely by reason of acting on behalf of a clearing agency or a participant therein in connection with the furnishing by the clearing agency of services to its participants or the use of services of the clearing agency by its participants, unless the Commission, by rule, otherwise provides as necessary or appropriate to assure the prompt and accurate clearance and settlement of securities transactions or to prevent evasion of this chapter; (iv) any life insurance company, its registered separate accounts, or a subsidiary of such insurance company solely by reason of functions commonly performed by such entities in connection with variable annuity contracts or variable life policies issued by such insurance company or its separate accounts; (v) any registered open-end investment company or unit investment trust solely by reason of functions commonly performed by it in connection with shares in such registered open-end investment company or unit investment trust, or (vi) any person solely by reason of its performing functions described in paragraph (25)(E) of this subsection.

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