Enrolled Agents are authorized by the United States Treasury to represent tax payers before the IRS in administrative tax proceedings. Examples where EAs can represent clients include examination, collections or appeals proceedings. EAs are also able to act as a tax consultant and help clients with state and federal tax return filings.
Individuals looking to become an EA must meet the following criteria set by the Internal Revenue Service. First time applicants must hold a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PITN), have filed all required tax returns and not have any tax liabilities. From there, applicants must pass the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE). The SEE exam contains three parts. It evaluates a candidates’ knowledge and competency relating to tax information and return preparation related to individuals and business for the first two parts. The final section evaluates practices and procedures for EAs and the necessary requirements they must following during proceedings.
Applicants who are former IRS agents may be able to obtain this status without taking the SEE. Based on Circular 230, former IRS agents with experience implementing or administering IRS regulations concerning employment, estate, gift, income or excise taxes may be exempt from the SEE. IRS agents must also have a minimum of five years in a taxpayer-engaging role such as a settlement officer, revenue agent or officer, tax or tax law specialist, appeals officer, special agent. Of the minimum five years of applicable experience, three of the years must have occurred within the applicant’s five last years of service to the IRS.
In order to maintain enrolled agent status, EAs must fulfill 72 hours of continuing education courses and maintain ethical standards to hold this licensure.