History of the Enrolled Agent profession
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 War losses, Congress acted to regulate persons who represented citizens in their dealings with the Treasury Department.
How can an Enrolled Agent help me?
An EA advises, represents and prepares tax returns for individuals, partnerships, corporations, estates, trusts and any entities with tax-reporting requirements. EAs prepare millions of tax returns each year.
- An EA’s expertise in the continually changing field of tax law enables them to effectively represent taxpayers audited by the IRS.
What are the differences between an EA and another tax professionals?
Only an Enrolled Agent is required to demonstrate competence in matters of
taxation to the Internal Revenue Service before representing a taxpayer before the IRS. Unlike attorneys and CPAs, who may or may not choose to specialize in taxes, ALL EAs SPECIALIZE IN TAXATION. An EA is the only taxpayer representative who receives his or her right to practice from the United States government. (CPAs and attorneys are licensed by individual states.)
How does one become an Enrolled Agent?
The EA designation is earned in one of two ways:
- An individual must pass a difficult two-day examination administered by the IRS which covers taxation of individuals, corporations, partnerships, estates and trusts, procedures and
ethics. Next, successful candidates are subjected to a rigorous background check conducted by the Internal Revenue Service.
- 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.
Are EAs required to take continuing professional education?
In addition to the stringent testing and application process, an EA is required to complete 72 hours of continuing professional education, reported every three years, to maintain their status. Because of the difficulty in becoming an Enrolled Agent and keeping up the required credentials, there are fewer than 35,000 active EAs in the United States.
Duane H. Siers has maintained more that 72 CPE Credits EACH YEAR of the last five years.
Is an Enrolled Agent bound by any ethical standards?
An EA is required to abide by the provisions of U.S. Treasury Department Circular 230. Any EA found to be in violation of the provisions contained in Circular 230 may be suspended or disbarred.
Why should I choose an EA who is a member of the National Association of Enrolled Agents?
The NAEA is the organization of and for Enrolled Agents. The principal concern of the Association and its members is:
Honest, intelligent and ethical representation of the financial position of taxpayers before governmental agencies. Members of NAEA are required to complete a minimum of 30 hours of continuing professional education each year in the interpretation, application and administration of federal and state tax laws in order to maintain membership in the organization. This requirement surpasses the IRS' required minimum of 16 hours per year.
Privilege and the Enrolled Agent
The IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 allows federally authorized practitioners (those bound by the previously
mentioned Circular 230) a limited client privilege. This privilege allows confidentiality between the taxpayer and the Enrolled Agent under certain conditions. The privilege applies to
situations where the taxpayer is being represented in cases involving audits and collection matters. It is not applicable to the preparation and filing of a tax return. The new privilege does
not apply to state tax matters, although a number of states have an accountant-client privilege.
Please Note: This information is provided to you by our office as general guidance. For assistance or specific questions or problems, please consult Duane H. Siers, EA.
Tax laws are subject to change at any time. Our office keeps current with the latest tax information.