An Enrolled Agent is a tax specialist who has been federally authorized to represent taxpayers before all levels of the IRS. Unlike CPAs, enrolled agents are eligible to practice in all states without additional licensing requirements.
The job of an enrolled agent is to advise, represent and prepare tax returns for individuals, corporations and trusts. Adding this useful certification to your resume could be a great accounting career move.
If you are ready to take your accounting career to the next level, but aren’t sure how to become an enrolled agent, keep reading!
Enrolled Agent Certification Steps
Unlike most other professional designations, there are no educational prerequisites for becoming an enrolled agent.
Although you don’t need a college degree or diploma, you must prove your competency for tax-related matters. There are two ways to do this:
1. Pass the Special Enrollment Exam (EA Exam)
The EA exam, also known as the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE), is a comprehensive, 3-part exam that demonstrates special competence in a wide variety of tax-related issues. You can take this exam in hundreds of national and international locations at a Prometric testing center.
The different parts of the exam can be taken in any order. The only requirement is that you must pass all three sections in order to earn your EA certification.
2. IRS Experience
Another way to become an enrolled agent is by having IRS experience. Past service or technical service with the IRS is considered acceptable.
If you choose to go this route, you must meet the following 3 requirements:
- Must have past experience and technical service, as specified in Circular 230
- Must apply for enrollment with Form 23
- Must undergo a background check to verify your years of experience. Your tax transcript will also be reviewed. Any failure to file or pay your taxes in a timely matter is grounds for enrollment denial
To be considered for EA enrollment, you must have a minimum of 5 years experience.
Maintaining Your EA Certification
Part of becoming an enrolled agent means maintaining your EA certification in the future.
Enrolled agents are required to renew their license every 3 years. This ensures that EAs are up-to-date on any changes and additions to the tax code.
The IRS will notify you when your renewal cycle is approaching. You can renew online or you can complete the paper Form 8554 and mail it in.
You must also complete 72 hours of continuing education. You have 3 years (the length of the enrollment cycle) to complete these hours, however, 2 hours of Ethics must be completed annually.
Why Become An Enrolled Agent?
You should consider becoming an enrolled agent for several reasons.
- There is a growing need for representation. In recent years, an increase in IRS enforcement has resulted in the need for more taxpayer assistance.
- You will have unlimited earning potential. You don’t need to be hired by a firm to serve in this capacity; you can start your own business and take on as many clients as you can handle.
- This is a recession-proof career. People will always have to pay taxes and will always need help.
If you decide to become an enrolled agent, you will be making a smart career choice that will open new doors and create potentially unlimited opportunities for yourself.
To help you pass the EA exam, you can take advantage of several EA review courses to prepare for the exam. Regardless of your learning style, there is an Enrolled Agent review course to suit your needs.
Bryce Welker is a regular contributor to Forbes, Inc.com, YEC.co and Business Insider. After graduating from San Diego State University he went on to earn his Certified Public Accountant license and created CrushTheCPAexam.com to share his knowledge and experience to help other accountants become CPAs too. As Seen On Forbes