Generally, the Principal for a business or organization includes the following:
- Sole Proprietorship: The sole proprietor is the Principal for a sole proprietorship.
- Partnership: Each partner who has a 5 percent or more interest in the partnership is a Principal. At least one such individual must be on the application. If no partner has at least a 5 percent or more interest in the partnership, the Principal is an individual authorized to act for the partnership in legal and/or tax matters.
- Corporation: The President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer are each a Principal of the corporation.
- Other: The Principal for an entity that is not a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation is an individual authorized to act for the entity in legal and/or tax matters. At least one such individual must be on the application.
If Principals described above are not involved in the e-file operations of the company, a large firm with multi-layered management (other than a sole proprietor) may substitute "Key Persons" who "participate substantially" in the firm's electronic filing operations as Principals on the firm's IRS e-file Application. These individuals can be in addition to, or in lieu of, the principals described above for partnerships, corporations or other and their position in the company on the e-file application must be identified as "Key Person". A large firm (not necessarily a Large Taxpayer by definition) usually has subsidiaries or multiple operating divisions/branches. "Participate substantially" means participation that is extensive and substantive, with control over the firm's electronic filing operations, and not peripheral, clerical, or ministerial.
Note: Any Principals described above that participate in the e-file operations of the company must be on the e-file application.
A Responsible Official is an individual with authority over the Provider’s IRS e-file operation at a location, is the first point of contact with the IRS, and has authority to sign revised IRS e-file applications. A Responsible Official ensures the Provider adheres to the provisions of the revenue procedure as well as all publications and notices governing IRS e-file. The Responsible Official may oversee IRS e-file operations at one or more offices, but must be able to fulfill identified responsibilities for each of the offices. If one individual cannot fulfill these responsibilities, add Responsible Officials to the e-file application. To add or change Responsible Officials, a Provider must revise its IRS e-file Application.
Each individual who is a Principal or Responsible Official must:
- Be a United States citizen or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence as described in 8 U.S.C. §1101(a)(20) (1994);
- Be 18 years of age as of the date of application; and
- Meet applicable state and local licensing and/or bonding requirements for the preparation and collection of tax returns.
Principals and Responsible Officials must submit fingerprints unless the individuals meet one of the exceptions shown below. Each Principal and Responsible Official must submit one set of fingerprints.
The unique fingerprint cards for IRS e-file are available only from the IRS by calling e-help, toll-free at (866) 255-0654. A trained specialist must fingerprint the individuals. Most local law enforcement offices and fingerprinting service companies charge a fee.
In lieu of fingerprints, Principals and Responsible Officials may need to enter professional status information (credential number, state of jurisdiction, and date of expiration) in the e-file application as evidence that they are one of the following:
- Attorney – Must be in good standing of the bar of the highest court in any state, commonwealth, possession, territory, or the District of Columbia. An attorney should not be under suspension or disbarment from practice before the IRS or from the bar of any state, commonwealth, possession, territory, or the District of Columbia.
- Certified Public Accountant – Must have a current license to practice as a Certified Public Accountant in any state, commonwealth, possession, territory, or the District of Columbia. A CPA should not be under suspension or disbarment from practice before the IRS or from practice by a state, commonwealth, possession, territory, or the District of Columbia. Licensed Public Accountants (LPAs) must provide fingerprints.
- Enrolled Agent (pursuant to part 10 of 31 C.F.R. Subtitle A) – Must have a valid and active Enrolled Agent Number.
- Officer of a publicly held corporation – May be asked to provide information about the exchange where listed and the name under which the stock is traded on corporate letterhead which carries the name of the officer.
- Banking official, bonded and fingerprinted within the last two years – May be asked to provide a copy of the bonding certificate and proof of fingerprinting within the last two years.