enrolled agent

An IRS enrolled agent (EA) is a person who has earned the privilege of representing taxpayers before the IRS. Enrolled agent status is the highest credential the IRS awards.

This is done by either passing a three-part special enrollment examination covering ethics and individual and business tax returns. Or, through experience as a former IRS employee. After that, all candidates also go through a rigorous background check conducted by the Internal Revenue Service.

Tax professionals who obtain this elite status must adhere to ethical standards and complete 72 hours of continuing education courses every three years. Consequently, due to the expertise necessary to become an EA and the requirements to maintain the license, there are less than 50,000 practicing enrolled agents worldwide. They are the best-of-the-best in the field of tax preparation.

EAs, like attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs), are unrestricted as to which taxpayers they can represent, what types of tax matters they can handle, and which IRS offices they can represent clients before. Learn more about EA’s in Treasury Department Circular 230.

The big advantage that you get by using an EA to do your tax return is that the same team that handles the preparation of the return can represent you if you have an audit.  This can be a big advantage if your return is at all complicated. And a big advantage for you if you choose Tax Samaritan.

What is an EA with the IRS?

“Enrolled” means licensure to practice by the federal government. “Agent” means authorized to appear in the place of the taxpayer at the IRS. Above all, only enrolled agents, attorneys, and CPAs have unlimited rights to represent taxpayers before the IRS. The EA profession dates back to 1884. After presentations of questionable claims for Civil War losses, Congress acted to regulate persons who represented citizens in their dealings with the U.S. Treasury Department.

How can an enrolled agent help me?

IRS 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 at all administrative levels within the IRS.

Privilege

The IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 allow federally authorized practitioners a limited client privilege. Practitioners must adhere to the Department of Treasury’s Circular 230 regulations. This privilege allows confidentiality between the taxpayer and the EA under certain conditions. The privilege applies to situations in cases involving audits and collection matters. It is not applicable to the preparation and filing of a tax return. However, this privilege does not apply to state tax matters, although a number of states have an accountant-client privilege.

Enrolled agent vs CPA – what are the differences?

Most importantly, only enrolled agents must demonstrate to the IRS their competence in all areas of taxation, representation and ethics before they are given unlimited representation rights before IRS.

Certified Public Accountants’ (CPA) specialize in accounting and may or may not choose to specialize in taxes. Moreover, unlike attorneys and CPAs, all EAs specialize in taxation.

Are enrolled agents bound by any ethical standards?

EAs are must abide by the provisions of the Department of Treasury’s Circular 230. Circular 230 provides regulations governing the practice of enrolled agents before the IRS.