what is an enrolled agent?
An Enrolled Agent (EA) is authorized by the U.S. Department of Treasury to prepare income tax returns and represent tax payers in any phase of the audit process. This person must take and pass three comprehensive exams covering a wide range of tax topics. They must also study income tax topics for a minimum of 24 hours per year. Enrolled Agents have been around for years. Click here for a brief history of Enrolled Agents.
There is a difference between Enrolled Agents and CPAs or Tax Attorneys. Enrolled Agents and Tax Attorneys specialize in taxation and so are very skilled in applying tax law. CPAs specialize in book keeping and accounting tasks and receive little education in taxation. Some CPAs choose to further their education in tax law, but they are not required to do so. Tax Attorneys can represent you in tax court; Enrolled Agents and CPAs can help you prepare for court but cannot represent you in court. Enrolled Agents receive their right to practice from the U.S. Government. CPAs and Tax Attorneys receive their rights to practice from their respective states. Finally, to brag a little, at the 2012 national conference for enrolled agents, an IRS official provided statistics showing that Enrolled Agents are fined and/or disbarred less frequently than Tax Attorneys and CPAs!