Enrolled Agents are tax professionals licensed to represent taxpayers before the IRS. The Enrolled Agent designation dates back to 1884, when many taxpayers were victimized by unscrupulous representatives when claiming losses in post-Civil War days. Congress recognized a need to regulate individuals representing citizens dealing with the Treasury Department and created the Enrolled Agent status. President Chester Arthur signed a Congressional enabling act creating the Enrolled Agent credential.
Today, Enrolled Agents advise and assist taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service, an instrumentality of the Treasury Department, in a number of ways:
- They prepare tax returns
- They answer questions regarding tax laws
- They represent taxpayers in disputes with the IRS
Enrolled Agents prepare millions of tax returns annually. They also provide tax assistance for estates, trusts, partnerships, corporations and other entities that are required to report taxes. “Enrolled” refers to the fact that the federal government licenses these professionals. They are “Agents” in that they are authorized to appear in place of a taxpayer before the IRS. Enrolled Agents differ from other tax practitioners in a number of ways:
- They are required to demonstrate their competence in tax matters before they represent a taxpayer before the IRS
- They all specialize in taxation
- They receive their authority from the federal government instead of state governments
- Enrolled Agents must complete 72 hours of continuing professional education every three years to maintain their status
Attorneys and Certified Public Accountants have state, not federal, licenses which limit where they can practice in the U.S. Unlike Enrolled Agents, they don’t always specialize in taxes.
I hope this clarifies the Enrolled Agent designation for you.
–Peggy Beasterfeld, EA
Peggy’s Tax & Accounting Service
300 SE 29th, Suite C
Topeka, Kansas 66605