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Enrolled Agent

You may not be familiar with the title "Enrolled Agent" (EA), so here is what the certification means: "Enrolled" means to be licensed to practice by the federal government, and "Agent" means authorized to appear in place of the taxpayer in dealings with the IRS. Only Enrolled Agents, attorneys, and CPAs may represent taxpayers before the IRS.

What are the differences between Enrolled Agents and other tax professionals?

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 the Treasury to represent taxpayers before all administrative levels of the Internal Revenue Service for audits, collections, and appeals. Enrolled Agents are the only taxpayer representatives who receive their right to practice from the U.S. government (CPAs and attorneys are licensed by the states). Finally, Enrolled Agents specialize in taxation unlike CPA's and attorneys which may or may not specialize in taxes.

What kind of training and continuing education is required of an Enrolled Agent?

Enrolled Agents are required to demonstrate to the IRS their competence in matters of taxation before they may represent a taxpayer before the IRS. In addition to the stringent testing, application process, and background check, the IRS requires Enrolled Agents to complete 72 hours of continuing professional education, reported every three years, to maintain their Enrolled Agent status. Because of the knowledge necessary to become an Enrolled Agent and the requirements to maintain the license, there are only about 46,000 practicing Enrolled Agents.

What does “practice before the Internal Revenue Service” mean?

An enrolled agent is a person who has earned the privilege of practicing, that is, representing taxpayers, before the Internal Revenue Service. “Practice before the IRS” includes all matters connected with a presentation to the IRS on behalf of the taxpayer. Enrolled agents, like attorneys and (CPA's), are unrestricted as to which taxpayers they can represent, what types of tax matters they can handle, and which IRS offices they can practice before. Examples include preparing and filing documents, communicating with the IRS, and representing a client at meetings.

How can an Enrolled Agent help me?

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 also enables them to effectively represent taxpayers audited by the IRS.

Most importantly, whomever you decide to entrust with your personal information should have the training, experience, certifications and background check required by the IRS. Bottom line, make sure your taxes and small business bookkeeping are handled by a trained tax professional!

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