Your Pathway to Becoming an Enrolled Agent

What is an Enrolled Agent?

An Enrolled Agent (EA) is a person who has earned the privilege of representing taxpayers before the IRS by either:


Passing a three-part comprehensive IRS test covering individual and business tax returns

Or, two…

Through experience as a former IRS Employee

Reasons why you should become an Enrolled Agent

Enrolled Agents 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 (CE) courses every three years.

Enrolled Agents, like attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs),
have unlimited practice rights. This means Enrolled Agents 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

If you are interested in becoming a Tax Preparer or already are one, it makes great sense to work towards becoming an Enrolled Agent. Currently the IRS has a voluntary program for tax preparers, the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP). Without completing this bare minimum program or having any other recognized credentials, you lose very basic representation rights for clients whose returns you prepared.

If you can’t talk to the IRS on your clients behalf, you may lose them! And with IRS examinations on the rise, this is becoming increasingly important. The AFSP also includes a yearly 6-hour course and test, plus 15 hours of annual CE. If you are going to do the AFSP, why not go one step further and work towards the highest credential the IRS awards? — and increase your knowledge and credibility at the same time!

Continuing your education enables you to prepare more complicated tax returns, which in turn allows you to charge more and grow your business! In addition, you can also become specialized in certain areas and be known as “the expert.” Think about what your regular family doctor makes for a living and how many patients he/she might see in a day. Now think about what a heart surgeon makes for a living and how many patients he/she might see in a day. The heart surgeon makes a lot more money and sees far fewer patients on a daily basis. The more you know, the more you can charge and the more your business will grow!

Steps to becoming an Enrolled Agent

Step 1: Start by enrolling in the Chartered Tax Professional-CTP® certificate program.

This e-learning program leading to the professional CTP® designation includes five courses totaling 165-hours of instruction. The courses can be completed in just 18 months or less. The CTP® curriculum includes most topics on the EA exam and CTP® graduates are well prepared to pass the EA Exam after completing an EA Review, also available from ITS in partnership with Exam Matrix. Experienced tax professionals can usually “test out” of the first course, the Comprehensive Tax Course, which is 45 hours of instruction. The cost to test out of the Comprehensive Tax Course is $100. Learn more about testing out of the Comprehensive Tax Course.

Courses included in this program:

Additional Requirements:

  • Annual CE requirement beginning the year after you qualify as a CTP®
    • 15 Hours (9 hours federal tax law, 3 hours ethics, 3 hours federal tax law updates)
  • Experience requirement:
    • 300 Hours must be completed before final CTP® certificate is issued. After completing the first tax course, you’ll have the tax knowledge to prepare individual tax returns for almost all U.S. taxpayers and you can start working towards your experience requirement. Plus, you’ll start earning money!
  • Learn more about requirements
  • View our CTP Timeline Schedule

Step 2: Complete an EA exam review with Surgent at a discounted rate.

The Income Tax School is pleased to offer you the opportunity to further your career by obtaining your Enrolled Agent (EA) certification. We have partnered with Surgent EA Review (formerly Exam Matrix EA Exam Review), a leader in EA Exam preparation, to help you prepare for the EA Exam.

Surgent offers EA Study Guides and Practice Exams…starting at just $169

(ITS Customers Get a Reduced Rate!)

  • New EA Exam Review innovations – Intelligent Software
  • Over 1,800 Multiple-Choice Questions – With Full Text Answers
  • Up-to-Date IRS Publications – Built Right Into the Software
  • Over 80% Pass Rate
  • Simulated Exam Mode
  • Pass or Refund Guarantee

Step 3 – Take the SEE exam with the IRS.

Individuals wishing to become an IRS Enrolled Agent must take and pass the IRS Special Enrollment Exam (SEE). There are fives steps to this process:

  1. Review the Candidate Information Bulletin – This bulletin will provide you with important information about the examination and the process for becoming an Enrolled Agent.
  2. Register and Schedule Your Exam – Prior to scheduling an examination appointment you must register for each part of the examination that you wish to take.
  3. Review Exam Content Outlines – Read the full detailed test specifications to become familiar with the content of each part of the examination.
  4. Prepare for your Exam – Please review the Candidate Information Bulletin for test content and scoring information, test center regulations and ID policies, registration and scheduling issues and contact information.
  5. Take your Exam