EA vs CPA
What is an Enrolled Agent?
An Enrolled Agent (EA) is a tax practitioner authorized by the United States federal government to represent tax payers in affairs with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The United States Department of Treasury empowers EAs to represent taxpayers for any audits, appeals or collections. Enrolled agents are given the authority to prepare tax returns, advise and represent individuals, estates, corporations, partnerships and trusts. EAs are experts who keep up with the ever changing area of taxation. EAs are therefore effectively able to represent persons who are audited by the IRS. EAs are required to show they are competent in tax laws before they can represent a tax payer before the IRS. EAs receive their license from the federal government while Certified Public Accountants and attorneys are usually licensed by the state in which they reside.
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.
EAs are not as well known as CPAs but are at least as good, if not better, in income tax matters. To earn an EA designation, they have to either be a former IRS employee (minimum 5 years experience) or pass a comprehensive 2-day exam administered by the IRS. Then, there are continuing education requirements similar to those of CPAs.
An EA is authorized by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before the IRS for audits, collections, and appeals, according to the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA). EAs advise, represent and prepare tax returns for individuals, partnerships, corporations, estates, trusts and any entities with tax-reporting requirements. In addition to an IRS-administered testing and application process, enrolled agents must complete at least 72 hours of continuing education every three years. The IRS does not require attorneys and certified public accountants to complete continuing education, but some state licensing offices have added additional requirements.