An Enrolled Agent (EA) is licensed by the IRS, may practice in any state. An enrolled agent is a tax professional, who has demonstrated special competence in tax matters, applied for enrollment, and has been issued an enrollment card. EA’s can represent you before the IRS.
Unlike lawyers or CPAs, EA’s specialize in taxation. Throughout the year they advise, represent and prepare returns for individuals, partnerships, corporations, estates, trusts and any entities with tax-reporting requirements.
Only EA’s are required to demonstrate competence in matters of taxation before they may represent a taxpayer. Also, they are the only representatives for taxpayers who receive that right from the U. S. government. (CPAs and attorneys are licensed by the states.)
An individual may become an Enrolled Agent in one of two ways: The primary way is to pass a difficult, two-day examination given annually by the IRS. The test covers taxation of individuals, corporations, partnerships, estates, trusts, procedures and ethics. The other way is to have been an employee of the IRS for 5 years.
Only an average of 1/3 of the individuals taking the examination pass each year, allowing them to apply for enrollment and subject themselves to a background investigation. EA’s are required to earn 72 hours of continuing professional education, reported every three years, to maintain their status. (30 hours per year are required for membership in professional EA organizations)
Because of the difficulty in becoming enrolled and maintaining that enrollment, there are fewer than 34,000 Enrolled Agents in the United States. In contrast, there are about 375,000 certified public accountants (CPAs) nationwide. More Information