Reimagine Your Future: Four Steps To Become an Enrolled Agent
Enrolled Agent (or EA) is a type of tax advisor who is a federally authorized tax practitioner empowered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The enrolled agent status is the highest credential awarded by the IRS and those that hold it are able to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for tax issues including audits, collections and appeals.
Enrolled Agents, like attorneys and Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), 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. Learn more about enrolled agents in Treasury Department Circular 230 (PDF).
How to become an Enrolled Agent
An enrolled agent is a person who has earned the privilege of representing taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service by passing a three-part comprehensive IRS test covering individual and business tax returns, or through experience as a former IRS employee.
Four steps to become an enrolled agent:
- First you must obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). If you are preparing taxes for others, you most likely have one already; however, you will need to make sure it is current. There is no charge to obtain or renew your PTIN at this time.
- Visit the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE) web page to apply to take the test and review the SEE Candidate Information Bulletin for additional useful information. You will be able to review SEE sample test questions and answers prior to taking the test. You will have to receive passing scores on all three parts of the SEE.*
- After passing all three parts of the SEE*, you will then apply for enrollment and pay the $30 enrollment fee electronically at Pay.gov or download Form 23 and mail the completed form and a check to the IRS. As part of the application process, there will also be a background check completed.
- Finally, after you have submitted Form 23, you will need to pass a tax compliance check to ensure that you have filed all necessary tax returns and that there are no outstanding tax liabilities.
*Certain IRS employees, by virtue of past technical experience, are exempt from the exam requirement.
How to maintain your Enrolled Agent status
Individuals who obtain this elite status must adhere to ethical standards and can maintain status in three easy steps:
- Make sure that you renew your status as an enrolled agent every three years (view Circular 230 Section 10.6(d) for cycle details). Renew online at Pay.gov (put 8554 in the search box) or on paper use Form 8554.
- Use an IRS-approved continuing education provider to take continuing education classes. You will need to obtain a minimum of 16 hours per year (2 of which must be on ethics) and 72 hours every three years (based on your renewal cycle).
- Renew your PTIN between October 16 — December 31 each year.
The benefit of getting an IRS enrolled agent certification strengthens the confidence clients have in you and it validates that your abilities have met a higher standard. It can open new doors, help you grow your practice and it will also help differentiate you from your competitors.