Responsible Individuals of Professional Employer Organizations Applying for Certification


Defining a Responsible Individual

Responsible Individuals play an important and necessary role in the CPEO Application process. You are a responsible individual of a CPEO applicant, and must be reported as such, if any of the following apply to you: (1) you own at least 33 percent of the CPEO applicant, (2) you are a director, officer, managing member, or sole proprietor of the CPEO applicant; or (3) you control, manage, or supervise the CPEO applicant, its operations, finances, or federal employment tax compliance. Section 301.7705-1T(b)(13) provides the technical definition of a responsible individual PDF for purposes of the CPEO program.

In addition, as provided by Notice 2016-49, the term "responsible individual" also includes: (1) in the case of a disregarded entity owned by a corporation or partnership, the responsible individuals of that corporation or partnership (as defined by the regulations); and (2) in the case of a disregarded entity owned by an individual, the individual owner. 

Responsible Individual Personal Attestation (RIPA)

Responsible individuals must submit a Responsible Individual Personal Attestation (RIPA) as a prerequisite to the organization submitting a CPEO Application via the IRS Online Registration System. The RIPA gathers information that will allow the IRS to perform a suitability check on the responsible individual. A RIPA is required for all responsible individuals identified within a CPEO Application and it must be submitted through the IRS Online Registration System after the responsible individual verifies his or her identity through the Identity Verification process on the same registration system. Submitting a RIPA can’t be done until the Identity Verification process is successfully completed. The RIPA must be completed before the CPEO applicant submits their application for certification as the CPEO applicant will need the responsible individual’s INDV number from the RIPA to complete their application.  

What You Need to Complete a RIPA

  • Your name, home address and phone number.
  • The business name and Employer Identification Number (EIN) of the CPEO applicant for which you are a responsible individual.
  • Your ownership percentage of the CPEO applicant, if applicable.
  • The business names and EINs of all entities for which you are a responsible individual. For more information about what entities are covered by this requirement, see the CPEO FAQs.

Additional Information Required

Responsible individuals undergo several background checks including criminal background checks, tax compliance checks, experience reporting and others as part of the RIPA process.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducts criminal background checks using the responsible individual’s fingerprints.  Criminal Background checks are performed when the RIPA is submitted and as part of the CPEO annual verification. Fingerprints must be submitted by each responsible individual. Generally, fingerprint cards are submitted once, but IRS will request new fingerprint cards if the FBI cannot scan the original submission. Fingerprints are submitted on a Form FD-258, Fingerprint Card. The fingerprint cards used for the CPEO program are unique and can only be obtained by sending an email request to with CPEO FINGERPRINT in the subject line.

NOTE: THIS PROCESS IS TO BE USED ONLY TO REQUEST FINGERPRINT CARDS FOR THE CPEO PROGRAM. Requests for CPEO application status or other programs such as IRS e-file Provider or IRS Acceptance Agent will not receive a response. If you need fingerprint cards for IRS e-file, acceptance agent program, EFIN or other e-service, use the procedures specific to that program. Non-CPEO email requests cannot be forwarded.

The request should include the requestor's name and mailing address. Two cards and complete instructions will be mailed to each requestor. If you are requesting cards for more than one responsible individual, provide the number of individuals in your email request. If you are ordering fingerprint cards for individuals and want to have the cards mailed to multiple addresses, you will need to provide a separate email request for each individual and the individual’s corresponding address.

The responsible individual will fill out the necessary information on the card, and then take it, with photo identification, to a law enforcement office (or similar location) for fingerprinting. The cards should then be mailed back to the IRS at the following address:

Internal Revenue Service
Submission Processing Center - Austin
3651 S. IH-35, Stop 6380 AUSC
Austin, TX 78741

Two cards should be completed and returned for each individual in case one is not useable. Photocopies of fingerprint cards are not acceptable.  Missing information on the fingerprint card will result in delays in processing the RIPA.

In addition, a responsible individual must take the necessary actions to authorize the IRS to conduct background checks and to investigate the accuracy of statements and submissions made by the CPEO applicant and the responsible individual.  This may include waiving confidentiality and privilege in situations where the IRS may be obstructed in obtaining or confirming information from relevant third parties (such as former employers) because of the existence of confidentiality, non-disclosure, or similar agreements.

RIPAs are reviewed in conjunction with the CPEO application.  Processing times are based on all of the facts and information submitted with an application and the associated RIPAs. If the IRS requires additional information or clarification, it may contact the appropriate responsible individual or CPEO applicant.

Updating Previously Submitted Information

You may update or change any previously submitted information on your RIPA if your License Rank on the Main Menu of the Online Registration System shows “Responsible Individual.”  Access your online account and go to the Main Menu page of the Online Registration System.  Under “Manage Your License Information” you will see an option to “Update RI Account Information.”  Click the “Select” button to begin your update or make changes.

Follow the instructions on each screen to identify the items you wish to update or change.  You must also give a date of when each update or change occurred.  You will have an opportunity to upload any supporting documentation and submit your updates under penalty of perjury.  Once submitted, you can download and print a summary report of your updates and changes for your records.

Withdrawing a RIPA

If you need to withdraw a RIPA, contact the Online Registration Helpdesk at (855) 477-7347 between the hours of 9:30 AM and 6:00 PM Eastern Standard Time (EST).