More About the EA Designation

 

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History of Enrolled Agents

Enrolled agents date back to the late 19th century, although they would not take on that title for another eight decades. Their original function was representing U.S. citizens seeking reimbursement for having their horses and livestock commandeered by Union forces during the Civil War. After the income tax was instituted in 1913, these agents could represent citizens before the government on tax matters. In 1959 a special enrollment exam was created to qualify representatives before they could represent taxpayers before the IRS. In 1966, the Treasury Department began using the Enrolled Agent (Enrolled to Practice before the IRS) title for the professionals it licensed.

How to Become an Enrolled Agent

Enrolled agents date back to the late 19th century, although they would not take on that title for another eight decades. Their original function was representing U.S. citizens seeking reimbursement for having their horses and livestock commandeered by Union forces during the Civil War. After the income tax was instituted in 1913, these agents could represent citizens before the government on tax matters. In 1959 a special enrollment exam was created to qualify representatives before they could represent taxpayers before the IRS. In 1966, the Treasury Department began using the Enrolled Agent (Enrolled to Practice before the IRS) title for the professionals it licensed.

Looking for an EA to Assist You

The Orange County Chapter of Enrolled Agents is an affiliate of the California Society of Enrolled Agents (CSEA) and the National Society of Enrolled Agents (NAEA). Both the state affiliate and the national affiliate provide directories. You can link to both directories below.

NAEA Directory
CSEA Directory

More About the Enrolled Agent Designation

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. Click on the following topics to find out more about the Enrolled Agent designation and how they can serve you.

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

Only Enrolled Agents are required to demonstrate to the IRS their competence in matters of taxation before they may represent a taxpayer before the IRS. Unlike attorneys and CPAs, who may or may not choose to specialize in taxes, all Enrolled Agents specialize in taxation. 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).

What does the term “Enrolled Agent” mean?

“Enrolled” means to be licensed to practice by the federal government, and “Agent” means authorized to appear in the place of the taxpayer at the IRS. Only Enrolled Agents, attorneys, and CPAs may represent taxpayers before the IRS.

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 enables them to effectively represent taxpayers audited by the IRS.

Are Enrolled Agents required to take continuing professional education?

In addition to the stringent testing and application process, the IRS requires Enrolled Agents to complete 72 hours of continuing professional education, reported every three years, to maintain their Enrolled Agent status. Orange County Chapter members are obligated to complete 90 hours per three-year reporting period. 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 nationally.

Are Enrolled Agents bound by any ethical standards?

Enrolled Agents are required to abide by the provisions of the Department of Treasury’s Circular 230, which provides the regulations governing the practice of Enrolled Agents before the IRS. NAEA members are also bound by a Code of Ethics and Rules of Professional Conduct of the Association.