Enrolled Agent is the highest credential in the tax industry, awarded by the IRS.
What Is an Enrolled Agent?
An Enrolled Agent (EA) is a tax expert who has earned the privilege of representing taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), by either:
- Passing a three-part comprehensive IRS test covering individual and business tax returns, OR
- Having experience as a former IRS Employee
Why Become an Enrolled Agent?
- Like attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs), Enrolled Agents have unlimited practice rights, meaning 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 credential is nationally recognized, meaning Enrolled Agents are authorized by the IRS to practice in any state. Interestingly, CPAs have to be licensed separately in each state they wish to practice in.
Even more reasons…
- You don’t need a college degree to become an Enrolled Agent — you need only a high school diploma or equivalent.
- You don’t need to know accounting or high-level math to become an Enrolled Agent.
- There is a shortage of Enrolled Agents who can handle more complicated tax returns and represent clients before the IRS.
- Your earning potential is much greater as an Enrolled Agent because you have a higher level of tax knowledge and are unrestricted — meaning you are able to do more things for your clients. You can easily work year-round assisting clients with tax preparation, representation, and many other tax issues.
- You can pass the three-part Enrolled Agent Exam, also called the Special Enrollment Exam (SEE), one part at a time — and you have two years from passing the first exam to pass all three! This makes studying for and passing the exam much more manageable.
Steps to Becoming an Enrolled Agent
Enroll in the Chartered Tax Professional CTP® Certificate Program
This online certificate program leading to the professional CTP® designation includes five courses, totaling 157 hours of instruction. The courses help you learn income tax preparation from the very beginning and 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 a Surgent EA Exam Review.
Courses included in the CTP® program:
- Comprehensive Tax Course
- Advanced I Tax Course
- Advanced II Tax Course
- Small Business I Tax Course
- Small Business II Tax Course
Already have some experience?
Experienced tax preparers can try to test out of the Comprehensive Tax Course to save time and money within the CTP® program.
Complete a Surgent EA review course
After you’ve gotten a few tax courses under your belt, you should consider registering for Part 1 of Surgent’s EA Review Course, and you can work toward your EA status at the same time. This will put you on the fast track to becoming an Enrolled Agent. Surgent’s course is a leader in EA Exam preparation. The course offers:
- 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 96% Pass Rate
- Simulated Exam Mode
- Pass or Refund Guarantee
Take the IRS SEE examination
Individuals wishing to become an IRS Enrolled Agent must take and pass the IRS Special Enrollment Examination (SEE). As mentioned above, you can take one part at a time. You have two years from passing the first exam to pass all three parts of the exam. This makes studying and passing the SEE exam much more manageable! There are six steps to the exam process:
- Create an Account with Prometric, if you don’t have one.
- Review the Candidate Information Bulletin – This bulletin will provide you with important information about the examination and the process for becoming an Enrolled Agent. Review the Candidate Information Bulletin
- Review Exam Content Outlines – Read the full detailed test specifications to become familiar with the content of each part of the exam.
- 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.
- Register for and Schedule Your Exam – Prior to scheduling an examination appointment you must register for each part of the examination that you wish to take through Prometric, who administers the exam for the IRS. There is a $182.00 fee per part, paid at the time of appointment scheduling. The test fee is nonrefundable and nontransferable.
- Take your Exam, which will be taken in person at a Prometric Testing Center.
Register with the IRS as an Enrolled Agent
- Successfully pass all three parts of the EA exam (SEE exam) within two years.
- Obtain or continue to maintain your Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) through the IRS.
- Apply for enrollment by completing the Pay.gov Form 23 Enrolled Agent application and pay $67.
- Pass a suitability check, which will include tax compliance to ensure that you have filed all necessary tax returns and there are no outstanding tax liabilities; and criminal background. Successful examination candidates usually have the process completed within 90 days of receipt of their application.
Continue your education to maintain your EA credential
Individuals who obtain the Enrolled Agent status must adhere to ethical standards and complete 72 hours of continuing education (CE) courses every three years. A minimum of 16 hours must be earned per year, two of which must be on ethics. Enrolled Agents must use an IRS-approved CE provider.