What is an Enrolled Agent or EA?
From the May 2005 NATP TAXPRO monthly:
An EA is a person who has earned the privilege of representing taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Enrolled agents, like attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs), are unrestricted as to which taxpayers they can represent, what types of tax matters they can handle, and before which IRS offices they can practice. An EA has a significant edge over unlicensed preparers. This is increasingly important in light of rumblings from the IRS indicating higher dollar allocations for enforcement. It means that the need for representation will likely increase. Tax preparers with their ears to the ground should be readying themselves for a changing future.
History of Enrolled Agents
From the National Association of Enrolled Agents
EA is the professional designation for an Enrolled Agent. After the Civil War, many citizens had problems settling claims with the government for horses and other property confiscated for use in the war effort. After many petitions and much pleading, Congress in 1884 endowed Enrolled Agents with the power of advocay to prepare claims against the government and to seek equitable justice for the citizenry. For many years, the Enrolled Agent was to act in this capacity.
In 1913, when the income tax was passed, the job of the Enrolled Agent was expanded to include claims for monetary relief for citizens whose taxes had become inequitable. As the income tax, estate, gift and other sources of tax collections became more complex, the role of the Enrolled Agent increased to include the preparation of the many tax forms that were required. Additionally, as audits became more prevalent, there role evolved into tapayer advocacy, negotiating with the Internal Revenue Service on behalf of their clients.
In 1972, EA's united to form a national association to represent the needs and interests of EAs and the rights of taxpayers. That association is today called the National Association of Enrolled Agents. Through their national association and state affiliates, Enrolled Agents have successfully defened their rights to practice and furthered the passage of legislation and administrative rules that benefit both tax practioners and ordinary citizens.
This is the IRS Website’s brief description of Enrolled Agents:
Enrolled Agent Information
agent is a person who has earned the privilege of
representing taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service by
either passing a three-part comprehensive IRS test covering
individual and business tax returns, or through experience as
a former IRS employee. Enrolled agent status is the highest
credential the IRS awards. Individuals who obtain this elite
status must adhere to ethical standards and complete 72 hours
of continuing education courses every three years.
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. Learn more about enrolled agents in Treasury Department Circular 230 (PDF).