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 United States Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before all administrative levels of the Internal Revenue Service for audits, collections, and appeals. Enrolled agent status is the highest credential the IRS awards. Individuals who obtain this elite status must adhere to ethical standards and complete 72 hours of continuing education courses every three years.
Enrolled agents, like attorneys and certified public accountants, have unlimited practice rights. This means they are unrestricted as to which taxpayers they can represent, what types of tax matters they can handle, and which IRS offices they can represent clients before.
The enrolled agent license is the most expansive license the IRS grants a tax professional. Only Enrolled Agents are required to demonstrate to the Internal Revenue Service 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 EAs specialize in taxation. EAs are the only taxpayer representatives who receive their right to practice from the United States government. (CPAs and attorneys are licensed by the states.)
Enrolled Agents advise, represent, and prepare tax returns for individuals, partnerships, corporations, estates, trusts, and any entities with tax reporting requirements. EAs prepare millions of tax returns each year and their expertise in the continually changing field of taxation enables them to effectively represent taxpayers audited by the IRS.
An individual can earn the privilege of representing taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service by passing a three-part comprehensive IRS test covering individuals, corporations, partnerships, estates and trusts, procedures and ethics. Alternatively, an individual may become an Enrolled Agent based on employment at the Internal Revenue Service for a minimum of 5 years in a position where he or she regularly applied and interpreted the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code and its regulations. All candidates are subjected to a rigorous background check conducted by the Internal Revenue Service.
In addition to the stringent testing and application process, Enrolled Agents are required to complete 72 hours of continuing professional education, reported every 3 years, to maintain their status.
NAEA is the professional society of 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 must fulfill continuing professional education requirements that exceed the IRS required minimum. Continuing professional education must be reported every 3 years and NAEA Members must complete a minimum of 90 hours of education in the interpretation, application, and administration of federal and state laws in order to maintain membership in the organization.