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What is an Enrolled Agent (EA)?

An EA is an individual who has demonstrated technical competence in the field of taxation and can represent taxpayers before all administrative levels of the Internal Revenue Service.

What does the term "Enrolled Agent" mean?

"Enrolled" means EAs are licensed by the federal government. "Agent" means EAs are authorized to appear in place of the taxpayer at the Internal Revenue Service. Only EAs, 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 Way losses, Congress acted to regulate persons who represented citizens in their dealings with the Treasury Department.

How can an EA help me?

EAs advise, represent and prepare tax returns for individuals, partnerships, corporations, estates, trusts and any entities with tax-reporting requirements. EAs prepare millions of tax returns in a typical year. EAs' expertise in the continually changing field of tax law enables them to be effective representatives when taxpayers are audited by the IRS.

What are the critical differences between EAs and other tax professionals?

Only EAs are required to demonstrate to the Internal Revenue Service 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 EAs specialize in matters of taxation. EAs are also the only taxpayer representatives who receive the right to practice from the United States government. (CPAs and attorneys are licensed by the states.)

How does one become an EA?

The EA designation is earned in one of two ways: (1) an individual must pass a difficult three part examination administered by the IRS which covers taxation of individuals, corporations, partnerships, estates and trusts, procedures and ethics. Next, the successful candidates are subjected to a rigorous background check conducted by the Internal Revenue Service, or (2) an individual may become an EA based on employment at the Internal Revenue Service for a minimum of five years in a job where he/she regularly applied and interpreted the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code and regulations.

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