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How Enrolled Agent Certification Gives You a Competitive Edge

By Valerie Wendt

Diaries, mobile phone and a laptop kept on the table

The benefit of getting an IRS enrolled agent certification is much more than just additional letters at the end of your name on business cards.

Achieving enrolled agent status is the highest credential the IRS awards and can open new doors to help you grow your practice.

The credential strengthens the confidence clients have in you and it validates your abilities have met a higher standard. It also can add between 20 and 40% to your earnings.

How to become an enrolled agent (EA)

To become an enrolled agent (EA), you must either pass a three-part comprehensive IRS test covering individual and business tax returns and administrative practices, or through experience as a former IRS employee.

Individuals who obtain this elite status must adhere to ethical standards and complete 72 hours of continuing education courses every three years.

EAs have the privilege of representing taxpayers before the IRS. They can negotiate with the IRS during examinations and appeals, and act on behalf of taxpayers, signing consents and executing agreements.

An enrolled agent is the only professional the U.S. government directly grants the right to practice. While attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs) have state licenses, they're usually limited to practicing only in the states where they are licensed.

An enrolled agent, on the other hand, holds a federal license and has the right to represent any taxpayer in any state regarding federal tax matters.

Expand your services to increase profitability

EAs are considered tax specialists, setting them apart from attorneys and CPAs who may not specialize in taxes. The practice of EAs before the IRS is unlimited –they may represent taxpayers before the IRS and perform the same tasks as an attorney or CPA.

Additionally, the capabilities of EAs extend well beyond preparing returns, including representing clients in cases involving audits, collections, and appeals. An EA certification will differentiate you from your competitors.

As an EA, you can extend your services to include:

  • signing documents on behalf of your clients
  • execute closing agreements
  • extend the statutory period for tax assessments or collections of tax
  • execute waivers
  • execute claims for refund
  • sign any document on behalf of your clients

Your PTIN (preparer tax identification number) – that you must renew annually as a paid preparer – limits your practice.

A PTIN alone does not allow you to perform many services for your clients such as signing documents, executing closing agreements, waivers, or claims for refund; you may only represent before IRS agents and customer service representatives those taxpayers who you prepared and signed their tax return.

EA certification opens up many more areas of practice to you, thus increasing your opportunities for client engagements and billable hours.

If you are looking to take your career to the next level by becoming an EA, TaxAct has partnered with Surgent Professional Education to help you achieve your goal.

With Surgent's EA Exam Review Course, you'll be fully equipped to pass the Special Enrollment Exam (SEE) to earn the designation.

Surgent's powerful "adaptive learning" technology gives you a personalized study program to help you focus on the specific areas you need the most help – greatly reducing your study time.

And because the entire program is completed online, you can study whenever it fits your schedule.

Surgent's EA Exam Review Course includes 1,800 multiple-choice questions–many taken directly from past exams–with in-depth explanations, direct references to the corresponding IRS publications, and related glossary terms.

The information is presented in a format similar to the actual exam, so you'll be comfortable with the exam's computerized testing environment. You can also take unlimited simulated exams for unmatched confidence and preparedness.

Learn more about Surgent's EA Exam Review Course.

Read more articles from Surgent on TaxAct ProAdvance.

About Valerie Wendt

Valerie is Vice-President of Product Development at Surgent.