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 Treasury to represent taxpayers before all administrative levels of the Internal Revenue Service for audits, collections and appeals.
What does the term “Enrolled Agent” mean?
“Enrolled” means to be licensed by the Federal Government, and “Agent” means authorized to appear in place of the taxpayer 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.
The license is earned in one of two ways, by passing a comprehensive examination that covers all aspects of the Tax Code, or by having worked at the IRS for five years in a position which regularly interpreted and applied the tax code and its regulations. All candidates are subjected to a rigorous background check conducted by the IRS. EAs must complete at least 72 hours of continuing professional education every three years to meet IRS requirements and retain their license.
EA members of the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA) are required to complete a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education each year (six more per year than IRS requires) in the interpretation, application and administration of federal and state tax laws and ethics in order to maintain membership in the organization.
How do EAs differ from other tax practitioners?
EAs are the only practitioners licensed by the federal government as representatives for taxpayers. CPAs and attorneys, who do not necessarily specialize in tax matters, are licensed by the states. EA’s can handle audits without the client present and can represent clients in proceedings before appeals and collections.