What is an Enrolled Agent?
Enrolled Agents are tax experts. An Enrolled Agent (EA) is a federally-authorized tax practitioner who has technical expertise in the field of taxation and who is empowered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before all administrative levels of the Internal Revenue Service for audits, collections, and appeals. Enrolled agent status is the highest credential the IRS awards.
What does the term “Enrolled Agent” mean?
“Enrolled” means to be licensed to practice by the federal government, and “Agent” means authorized to appear in the place of the taxpayer at the IRS. Only Enrolled Agents, attorneys, and CPAs may represent taxpayers before the IRS. The Enrolled Agent profession dates back to 1884 when, after questionable claims had been presented for Civil War losses, Congress acted to regulate persons who represented citizens in their dealings with the U.S. Treasury Department.
How does one become an Enrolled Agent?
Carol earned her Enrolled Agent license by passing a comprehensive examination which covers all aspects of the tax code. All candidates are subjected to a rigorous background check conducted by the IRS.
How can Enrolled Agent help me?
Enrolled Agents advise, represent, and prepare tax returns for individuals, partnerships, corporations, estates, trusts, and any entities with tax-reporting requirements. Enrolled Agents’ expertise in the continually changing field of taxation enables them to effectively represent taxpayers audited by the IRS.
Are Enrolled Agents required to take continuing professional education?
In addition to the stringent testing and application process, the IRS requires Enrolled Agents to complete 72 hours of continuing professional education, reported every three years, to maintain their Enrolled Agent status. Like Carol Calhoon, many Enrolled Agents devote many more than the minimum hours to maintain and expand their tax expertise. Because of the knowledge necessary to become an Enrolled Agent and the requirements to maintain the license, there are only about 51,000 practicing Enrolled Agents.
What are the differences between Enrolled Agents and other tax professionals?
Only Enrolled Agents are required to demonstrate to the IRS their competence in matters of taxation before they may represent a taxpayer before the IRS. Unlike attorneys and CPAs, who may or may not choose to specialize in taxes, all Enrolled Agents specialize in taxation. Enrolled Agents are the only taxpayer representatives who receive their right to practice from the U.S. government (CPAs and attorneys are licensed by the states and cannot represent in states where they are not licensed.).
Are enrolled agents bound by any ethical standards?
Enrolled agents are required to abide by the provisions of the Department of Treasury’s Circular 230, which provides the regulations governing the practice of enrolled agents before the IRS.