Become an EA

Career Path of an Enrolled Agent

 

Accounting majors are aware that one of their career paths is to become a Certified Public Accountant. This choice is a long and competitive road that must be traveled to get there. Not only does one need to work for a firm for two years, an exam must be passed in order to have any chance at good income and a future.

 

Another option is to choose the path of an Enrolled Agent.

 

If an individual does not wish to be an expert in SEC corporate audits and the like, but, instead wishes to serve individuals and businesses in their local community, the Enrolled Agent might just be the perfect career choice.

 

Enrolled Agents are very special tax professionals. They have been around since right after the Civil War. Licensing comes from the U.S. Treasury Department. So, unlike CPAs, Enrolled agents can practice nationally, without re-certifying or re-testing state-by-state. Like CPAs and attorneys, Enrolled Agents are governed by U.S. Treasury Department Circular 230, the ethical bible of tax representation. Recently, through the efforts of Enrolled Agents throughout the country, permission was obtained for accountants to be able to keep their Enrolled Agents status when they became CPAs. (In the past, upon getting certified, accountants had to sacrifice their EA cards.)

 

Due to the national representation capability, many CPA's are becoming Enrolled Agents.

 

Enrolled Agents prepare and sign tax returns, represent the client at tax audits, intercede for clients on collections issues, set up installment agreements and offers in compromise, sign closing agreements regarding a tax liability, sign consents to extend the statutory period for assessment...

 

In fact, Enrolled Agents may take the Tax Court exam and represent taxpayers before the court, without having gone to Law School or sitting for the Bar Exam.

 

Becoming an Enrolled Agent is a great career for people who want independence. Enrolled Agents tend not to fit into corporate molds. Many live on their own schedule; get creative and artistic; write; make music, travel and shake up the world. You rarely see large firms consisting of Enrolled Agents.

 

Typically, Enrolled Agents charge just a bit less than CPAs for professional services. Although, the more experienced ones have hourly billing rates that are higher than CPAs.

 

Many Enrolled Agents are also good at the fundamentals, like bookkeeping and payroll.

 

This is a business that really lends itself to being run from home. This is great for students working on their degrees, single moms, actors or performers who need flexible schedules, Realtors, retirees who want to keep their brains active, CPAs who want out of the rat race, people who live in RVs and want the freedom to hit the road.

 

This is a profession that can be maintained with a phone line, a modem and laptop computer. One can set appointments with clients when it suits and can control the size of a practice. Although most Enrolled Agents work year-round, many of them are closed at least two days a week after tax season.

 

Enrolled Agents are often gregarious, party folk, play golf, take chances, and give a great deal of personal care and attention to their clients. Often, they perform services that are entirely above and beyond the call of duty.

 

Enrolled Agents are often older people because they have chosen the profession as a second career. But, there's lots of room for young blood. In fact, many Enrolled Agents are looking for people who will stay with them for a couple of years and take over their practices. There's a lot more room for faster partnership potential with a small Enrolled Agent firm than there is in a CPA firm.

 

 

How to become an enrolled agent

 

There are two tracks to becoming an enrolled agent. These tracks are described in Federal regulations contained in a pamphlet known as Treasury Department Circular 230, Regulations Governing the Practice of Attorneys, Certified Public Accountants, Enrolled Agents, Enrolled Actuaries, and Appraisers Before the Internal Revenue Service. The two tracks are:

  1. Written examination.
    You can become an enrolled agent by demonstrating special competence in tax matters by taking a written examination. This track requires that you to:
    1. Apply to take the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE); Prometric offers Enrolled Agent exams.
    2. Achieve passing scores on all parts of the SEE
    3. Apply for enrollment
    4. Pass a background check to ensure that you have not engaged in any conduct that would justify the suspension or disbarment of an attorney, CPA, or enrolled agent from practice before the IRS.
  2. IRS experience. You can become an enrolled agent by virtue of past service and technical experience with the IRS that qualifies you for enrollment. This track requires that you:
    1. Possess the years of past service and technical experience specified in Circular 230
    2. Apply for enrollment
    3. Pass a background check to ensure that you have not engaged in any conduct that would justify the suspension or disbarment of an attorney, CPA, or enrolled agent from practice before the IRS.

 Applying for Enrollment to Practice Before the IRS and Form 23

 

 

(Some excerpts taken from the IRS).