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What Is an Enrolled Agent?

Enrolled Agents (EA) are professional tax practitioners who are enrolled to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service. Empowered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, EAs are federally authorized and licensed to assist taxpayers with tax planning, preparation, and representation.

An Enrolled Agent is the highest designation given by the IRS. EAs are the only taxpayer representatives who receive the right to represent taxpayers from the U.S. government, rather than from individual states. They can therefore work with individuals and owners of small businesses in all 50 states. CPAs and attorneys can also represent taxpayers, but are licensed state by state. 

Enrolled agents can perform a variety of tax-related services, including tax return preparation, tax planning, and return filing. They typically represent clients before the IRS on matters such as IRS letters and correspondence, audits, collections, and appeals. 

There are only two ways to earn the EA designation.  Once a year, the Internal Revenue Service gives a very difficult two-day examination covering all aspects of taxation, including procedures and ethics. Traditionally, fewer than one-third of all applicants pass the examination, allowing them to apply for enrollment (the application process includes a thorough background investigation).

The other way to become an Enrolled Agent is to be employed by the IRS for a minimum of five years, regularly applying and interpreting the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code and regulations. Following enrollment, EAs must maintain a stringent annual schedule of professional education in the field of taxation.

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