Years ago as a new BSA Officer, I received a call from one of our branch managers who had a customer at their desk and was needing my immediate input. The branch manager told me that the person trying to open a new deposit account with us was refusing to provider her social security number and driver’s licence information (the info our CIP policy required) as she was told that the account was exempt and she didn’t need to provide it. I asked her what type of company was opening the account and she responded by saying that it was a school.
Are Schools Exempt from BSA Rules?
If you read the actual BSA regulations, you are not going to find anything specific in them regarding whether or not a school is subject to BSA rules such as CIP and even the new Customer Due Diligence (CDD) rules for ultimate beneficial ownership (UBO). Yet, the lady opening the account at the branch manager’s desk years ago was correct: her school was exempt.
The reason some schools are exempt from certain BSA rules like CIP, CTRs and CDD/UBO, is because some public schools are considered to be an entity that exercises governmental authority - meaning they have the authority to tax. Entities that exercise governmental authority are listed as an exemption to BSA requirements.
Therefore, the bottom line is that if a school (i.e. public school) has the authority to tax, it is going to be exempt from CIP (as long as your policy does not otherwise include it), CTRs and even the new UBO rules.
Ultimate Beneficial Ownership for Schools
With the implementation of the new CDD rules, one question I have received is this: Do the UBO rules apply to schools.
As mentioned previously, all schools are not created equal. Some are public schools, some are not-for-profits, while others are for-profit corporations. Therefore, the UBO rules will apply to a school or school corporation based on the type of entity it is.
First, if a school is a public corporation, there are no exemptions or exclusions that apply and the full UBO rules would apply to this school.
If a school is a non-profit, such as one that is owned and operated by a church or other non-profit organization, the school will be subject to the non-profit partial exclusion (meaning that only the control prong applies) as follows:
“Any legal entity that is established as a nonprofit corporation or similar entity and has filed its organizational documents with the appropriate State authority as necessary.”
On the other hand, if a school is a public entity - where it has the authority to tax - it will be excluded from the UBO rules - just as it is excluded from CIP rules and included in Phase I CTR exemptions. The citation for this in the UBO rules comes from 1010.230(e)(2)(ii) which states: “a person described in 1020.315(b)(2) through (5) of this chapter.” When we look at 1020.315(b)(2) and (3), we find the following:
2) A department or agency of the United States, of any State, or of any political subdivision of a State.
3) Any entity established under the laws of the United States, of any State, or of any political subdivision of any State, or under an interstate compact between two or more States, that exercises governmental authority on behalf of the United States or of any such State or political subdivision.
In addition to this citation, the original 2016 FAQs on the CDD/UBO rule state the following:
“Q: Are there any entities that are excluded from the definition of the legal entity customer and for which a covered financial institutions is not required to obtain beneficial ownership information?
A: Yes. The CDD Rule excludes from the definition of legal entity customer certain entities that are subject to Federal or State regulation and for which information about their beneficial ownership and management is available from the Federal or State agencies, such as:
Certain exempt persons for purposes of the currency transactions reporting obligations:
A department or agency of the United States, of any State, or of any political subdivision of a State;
Any entity established under the laws of the United States, or any State, or of any political subdivision of any State, or under an interstate compact;”