What Skills Does a Tax Preparer Need to Succeed as an Enrolled Agent (EA)?

Skills to Succeed as an Enrolled Agent (EA)

Unlike CPAs, EAs do not need to have a degree in accounting. There isn’t even a minimum education requirement. So becoming an EA just requires knowing enough about the Internal Revenue Code and Circular 230 to pass the Special Enrollment Examination. Though, that IS a tough exam – and you do have to know a great deal to succeed.

Is it enough just to pass the EA exam?

Not hardly!

Many people who aspire to pass the EA exam have some years of Individual income tax preparation – often in a store-front franchise, or working for a private tax firm. They have no background in accounting, GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles), or bookkeeping. They don’t know how to balance a bank account, write a journal entry, balance a set of books, create a Profit and Loss Statement, or a Balance Sheet – or what either of those really mean, beyond numbers that go somewhere on a tax return.

Naturally, it’s important to get solid training in bookkeeping. (Note: too many people are out there charging for bookkeeping services who should be sued for malpractice. Not only don’t they have a clue – they are causing great harm to their clients.)

Here are some ways to get the bookkeeping training:

  • Go back to college – but, honestly, they don’t really teach you about bookkeeping at the university level. And they waste too much time focusing on things just to generate a grade in the class. AND – each class takes an entire semester and you may need 4 of them to do you any good. That could take two years or more, with the timing of the courses.
  • Take a community college course. They are cheaper. They focus more on the fundamentals of actually working with books, rather than esoteric theory. But, it will still take a long time to learn what you need.
  • American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) http://www.aipb.org/ – Since the course is online, you can learn everything you need at your own page. Some people can complete the entire course in weeks, others in many months.
  • QuickBooks Pro Advisor training – https://quickbooks.intuit.com/accountants/proadvisor/ – it’s all online. You can do it at your own pace. Some of it is free. It also comes with marketing exposure on their website. And you learn how to do accounting in their specific software. That can be pretty valuable, since millions of people use it.
  • A book – The Idiot’s Guide to Introductory Accounting by Gail Perry, CPA; David Ringstrom, CPA, and Lisa Bucki – It’s a book! You can read it in a brief period of time. And it covers all the important and old-fashioned things, like T-accounts, debits/credits, how to record transactions properly, and more. Even information about accounting for different business entities. Frankly, if you want the fastest, best, and least expensive introduction to the concepts – START HERE!

Then, come to TaxMama® and get your EA http://irsexams.school/ – or if you’re already an EA – improve your education and get CE credits for IRS, NASBA, CA, OR, MD, etc. – at http://www.cpelink.com/teamtaxmama

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