In order to help spot and deter illegal activities such as money laundering and tax evasion, the U.S. government has specific rules and regulations regarding cash deposits larger than $10,000. If you try to avoid these rules – even if you earned the money legally – you can end up breaking the law, being fined and going to jail.
Knowing the process for making large cash deposits and keeping yourself and your employees safe will help you get your transactions completed quickly and with more security.
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What Is a Large Deposit?
Under the Bank Secrecy Act, any amount of money deposited that is more than $10,000 requires a specific process to take place, explains MyBankTracker. Whether you deposit $10,001 or $100,000, the process for completing the transaction will be the same, unless your bank or credit union has specific requirements for their customers.
Before you attempt to make a large cash deposit at an ATM, via your mobile app, by transferring funds from one account to another via your online account or in person, it's a good idea to contact your financial institution to find out their process.
In addition to deposits, these rules apply to withdrawals larger than $10,000 or consistent smaller withdrawals. In addition, if you receive more than $10,000, you might have to file a Form 8300 with the IRS. If you don't, you can be fined, with the fines becoming larger with each transaction you don't report.
Read More: How to Deposit Money in a Checking Account
Making the Deposit in Person
When you make a deposit larger than $10,000, your bank or credit union must report it to the IRS via a Currency Transaction Report. Depending on your financial institution, it might ask you for more information, such as your occupation. The teller might also ask a bank manager to come over and approve the transaction.
In many cases, you'll have immediate access to your money, just as you would when you make any other deposit. Just to be sure, ask the teller when you will have access to your cash. After the transaction, your bank will notify you that it made a CTR to the IRS.
Read More: How to Deposit Cash Into a Bank Account
Using an ATM
You can make large deposits at an ATM, but your money might not be immediately available. The bank will file the CTR with the IRS and you won't need to take any other action. If you are trying to make a large withdrawal, your account might have a daily limit, such as $500. Find out in advance if you have a daily withdrawal limit on your account if you know you'll need to make large withdrawals.
App and Online Deposits
You can deposit a check electronically with many bank apps, taking a photo of the front and back of the check after you log in to your account, then depositing the check. Follow any instructions and read any notices you get regarding your large deposit. If you have linked bank accounts and want to make a transfer online, expect an extra notification or question during the transaction.
When it Becomes Illegal
If you don't want to avoid the extra steps that come with making large cash deposits, you might think about breaking the deposit into two smaller deposits. This is called "structuring" or "smurfing" and is illegal. This practice can lead to fines and jail time.
If you want to avoid these extra steps because you will be making large deposits on a regular basis (such as a restaurant depositing its receipts every few days), you can ask your bank to apply for an exemption. Some businesses don't qualify because the IRS wants to keep a closer eye on them, but you might.
If you try to avoid the rule by making all of your deposits $9,900, for example, that will cause the bank to flag the transaction and either contact you or the IRS.
Think About Safety
If you regularly make large cash deposits, someone might know about it and try to set up a robbery. Making large cash deposits at an ATM at night is also dangerous. Don't be a hero – if you're being robbed, don't resist. Think about whether your life, or the life of the person with you, is worth $15,000 or $20,000.
You can point out to the robber that the crime is being recorded on a security camera, which might panic him and cause him to flee. If you have to make a large deposit that will break your business if it's stolen, consider filling out one deposit slip for a small amount, such as $200, and putting it in an envelope.
You can then fill out a second deposit for the large amount and put that in your back pocket. Give a robber the small deposit in your front pocket. Leave the scene immediately, or if you feel safe enough, make the second deposit after the robber flees.