So you’ve recently learned about how effective Enrolled Agents are and have decided to employ one to help you with your taxes. Before you go and get lost in a list of web results, here are a few things to consider to ensure you pick the right Enrolled Agent for your business.
There are long established professional organizations, both at the state and federal level that exist to promote and develop the role of the Enrolled Agent.
The National Association of Enrolled Agents – NAEA.org has a simple-to-use EA finder at http://taxexperts.naea.org/. You can also find local EAs by making a quick search of the NAEA State Affiliates page. That will show you if there is a state organization where you live. You can always contact your nearest chapter and get a recommendation. Or…hire one of the officers. After all, to have gained those positions, they must be very active and involved in taking and providing continuing education.
Verify The Status of Your Enrolled Agent
Enrolled Agents hold an elevated status in the eyes of the IRS, not only because they have to pass a pretty tough three part exam, but also because they are required to keep up to date with 72 hours of continuing education credits every few years.
It’s easy to check on the status of your EA (or any other tax professional) – the IRS has a nifty tool for you – http://irs.treasury.gov/rpo/rpo.jsf . Note: If your current tax professional does not appear in the IRS listing, it’s because they are not EAs, CPAs, Attorneys, or members of certain other specially approved licensing designations. In other words – they have not cared to provide the IRS with proof of a license (in CA, OR, or MD), or proof of at least 15-18 hours of tax education each year. Do you really want to work with a tax pro in one of 47 states who might know less about tax laws than you do?
Alongside the professional organizations there are now a number of directories that exist to help you track down the professional you need. While some of them certainly do a good job, the reality is that these are for-profit entities and the recommendation you get may reflect how much an EA is willing to pay for prominent positioning on the website – rather than how good that EA is at their job.
If you’re looking for a personal referral, consider joining an online community. TaxMama.com® is home to thousands of Taxpayers and Tax Professionals who are asking and answering all kinds of tax and business-related questions. It is free to join, with many EA’s and CPAs already active in the forums, you just might meet the perfect one for you!Register For TaxMama's® EA Exam Course Now
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