What is an enrolled agent? An enrolled agent is a person who has earned the privilege of practicing, that is, representing taxpayers, before the Internal Revenue Service. 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 which IRS offices they can practice before.
An enrolled agent (or EA) is a federally-authorized tax practitioner who has technical expertise in the field of federal taxation and who is empowered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before all administrative levels of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for audits, collections, and appeals. Enrolled agents are the only federally-licensed tax practitioners who specialize in taxation and who have unlimited rights to represent taxpayers before the IRS. Some attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs) also have technical expertise in federal taxation and specialize in taxation. Attorneys and CPAs are also empowered by the Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before all administrative levels of the IRS, and attorneys and CPAs also have unlimited rights to represent taxpayers before the IRS (attorneys and CPAs are licensed by state authorities rather than by the Department of the Treasury).
To become an enrolled agent, an applicant must pass the Special Enrollment Examination, which covers many aspects of the tax code, or must have worked at the IRS for five years in a position which regularly interpreted and applied the tax code and its regulations. A background check, including a review of the applicant’s tax compliance, is conducted. The IRS requires enrolled agents to complete 72 hours of continuing professional education every three years.
According to the National Association of Enrolled Agents there are currently about 48,000 practicing EAs in the United States.