Voluntary Certification Program for Professional Employer Organizations (CPEOs)


What is the CPEO Program?

Professional employer organizations (PEOs) handle various payroll administration and tax reporting responsibilities for their business clients and are typically paid a fee based on payroll costs. Pursuant to section 7705(a) of the Internal Revenue Code, the term “certified professional employer organization” (CPEO) means a person that applies to be certified as a CPEO and that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has certified as meeting the applicable requirements. The Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, enacted December 19, 2014, requires the IRS to establish a voluntary certification program for PEOs which is the CPEO Program.

Learn more about the CPEO Program 

Latest news

On March 10, 2023, we released Revenue Procedure 2023-18 to clarify CPEO program requirements, steps and processes. It replaces Revenue Procedures 2016-33 and 2017-14. Find details in IRB 2023-13.

Am I eligible?

To be eligible for certification as a CPEO, a PEO:

  • must be a business entity,
  • must have at least one physical business location within the United States,
  • should have a history of financial responsibility, organizational integrity, and tax compliance (federal, state, and local),
  • and should be managed by individuals (a majority of whom are U.S. citizens or residents) who have knowledge or experience regarding federal and state employment tax compliance and business practices relating to those compliance requirements.

How do I apply?

The IRS uses an Online Registration System for PEO certification. Click “How Do I Apply” for instructions for the fingerprint process and the application system.

The sequence for completing an application for certification is as follows:

  1. Individual identity verification
  2. Responsible individual personal attestation (RIPA)
  3. Create a controlled group
  4. CPEO application

Refer to the CPEO application Privacy Act and Paperwork Reduction Act notice for guidance on why this information is being requested, how it may be used or disclosed, and the estimated average time needed to compete and submit the application.

CPEO application

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