What is an Enrolled Agent?
Enrolled Agents (EAs) are America's tax experts. They are the only federally-licensed tax practitioners who both specialize in taxation and have unlimited rights to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service. These tax specialists have earned the privilege of representing taxpayers before the IRS by either passing a comprehensive three-part examination covering individual tax returns; business tax returns; and, representation, practice and procedure, or through relevant experience as a former IRS employee. All candidates are subjected to a rigorous background check conducted by 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 the persons who represented citizens in their dealings with the U.S. Treasury Department.
The enrolled agent license is the most expansive license the IRS grants a tax professional. Enrolled agents are generally unrestricted as to which taxpayers they can represent, what types of tax matters they can handle, and the IRS offices before which they may practice. Unlike attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs), who may or may not choose to specialize in taxes, all enrolled agents specialize in taxation. CPAs and attorneys are licensed by the states, but enrolled agents are federally licensed. While the IRS requires all preparers to obtain and maintain a valid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN), enrolled agents have gone beyond the basic requirements and have demonstrated their expertise through testing.
In addition to the stringent testing and application process, the IRS requires enrolled agents to complete 72 hours of continuing education every three years to maintain their licenses. As members of the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA), our bar is raised even further as NAEA members are required to complete at least 90 hours in three-year period, In addition, NAEA members must adhere to a stringent Code of Ethics and Rules of Professional Conduct. Members of NAEA belong to a strong network of experienced, well-trained tax professionals who effectively represent their clients and work to make the tax code fair and reasonably enforced.
Learn more about enrolled agents in Treasury Department Circular 230 (PDF).
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