What is an Enrolled Agent?
Enrolled Agents are federally authorized tax practitioners who have demonstrated technical competence in tax law and are the only taxpayer representatives licensed to practice by the United States government. The Enrolled Agent is empowered by the United States Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before all administrative levels of the Internal Revenue Service for audits, collections, and appeals.
Enrolled Agents have been regulated by Congress since 1884. Enrolled Agents prepare tax returns for individuals, corporations, estates and trusts as well as providing other tax services as necessary for clients.
Why an Enrolled Agent?
An Enrolled Agent (EA) has no geographical boundaries. In other words, an EA can practice in any of the 50 United States unlike a CPA who has a license that is state specific. Not all CPAs specialize in the area of “Taxation” and “Tax Matters”, but many Enrolled Agents do. The distinction is important as an Enrolled Agent’s specialty is Taxation and Tax Accounting. A Certified Public Accountant is tested by the state in which he/she resides and found to be proficient in accounting. An Enrolled Agent, however, has been tested and designated by the U.S. Treasury Department as being proficient in Federal Taxation and Tax Accounting. Enrolled Agents are regulated by the Federal Government, not by the states (as are attorneys and CPAs). EAs must maintain their special expertise through continuing professional education to maintain their IRS accreditation. They are unique in that they are the only group of tax professionals who report verification of their continuing professional education hours earned directly to the Internal Revenue Service.
History of Enrolled Agent
Enrolled Agents are professionals who help taxpayers with taxing entities. After the Civil War, many citizens had problems settling claims with the government for confiscated property for use in the war effort. Congress, in 1884, designated Enrolled Agents to represent citizens before the government. In 1913, after the income tax was instituted, the role of Enrolled Agents expanded to include representing citizens in regards to taxation. As the complexity of the tax preparation requirements increased, the Enrolled Agent began to help the citizenry in the preparation of the necessary documents. The National Association of Enrolled Agents was created in 1972 to represent the needs of the taxpayers and help the Enrolled Agents to better represent the taxpayers.