What is an Enrolled Agent

The Enrolled Agent Exams are administered at a Prometric testing center on behalf of the IRS. 

The Profession has been regulated by Congress since 1884 and was created after the Civil War, to help confirm the validity of compensation claims of people whose horses, mules and other property had been appropriated during the war.

Today, Enrolled Agents continue to speak on behalf of taxpayers who need help with IRS audits, large balances due, IRS liens and levies – as well a routine tax preparation.

TaxMama® delivers one of the oldest and most comprehensive EA Exam review courses on the Internet and is recommended by several tax organizations.

Offered as  a live online interactive class – TaxMama’s®  course does more than just focus on passing the exam, it teaches you how to be an effective Enrolled Agent (EA.)



What does the term “enrolled Agent” mean?

“Enrolled” –  to be licensed to practice by the Internal Revenue Service with a special credential

“Agent”  – authorized to appear in the place of the taxpayer at the IRS.

Only Enrolled Agents, attorneys, and CPAs may represent taxpayers before the IRS. The Enrolled Agent profession dates back to 1884 when, after questionable claims had been presented for Civil War losses, Congress acted to regulate persons who represented citizens in their dealings with the U.S. Treasury Department

How does one become an Enrolled Agent?”

The license is earned in one of two ways.

  • Most people earn it by passing a set of comprehensive examinations which covers all aspects of the tax code
  • Some people can earn their EA credential after having worked at the IRS for five years in certain positions which regularly required them to interprete and apply the Internal Revenue Code and its regulations.

All candidates are subjected to a rigorous background check conducted by the IRS after they pass all three examinations.

How can an Enrolled Agent help me?

Enrolled Agents advise, represent, and prepare tax returns for individuals, partnerships, corporations, estates, trusts, and any entities with tax-reporting requirements.

Enrolled Agents’ expertise in the continually changing field of taxation enables them to effectively represent taxpayers audited by the IRS.

More about the EA EXAM

Who should be an Enrolled Agent?

Surprisingly, just about anyone! For some people, becoming an Enrolled Agent (EA) would be a wonderful career move. Although you have to be bright, creative and ethical, you don’t need a college degree.

Even someone right out of high school may sit for the exam. You don’t have to be a U.S. Citizen. You don’t even have to live in the USA – lots of American taxpayers outside the US need help. It’s a great way to support yourself through college – any number of tax firms would hire you – even remotely, these days. Or start doing tax returns for your family and friends and make a living.

Imagine a mother, working at home, near her children, on her own schedule. Someone with physical disabilities can work from home and earn a solid income. Love to travel? The EA certification is good anywhere in the USAor in the world – wherever Americans (or green card holders) live, who need to file US tax returns.

And with good  WiFi access, you can travel the world and work from anywhere at all. Even the International Space Station!

It’s like talking about Independence Day, right?

What Do you need?

You need a good math aptitude. You need patience. You need to be able to keep up with change, annually. You need an excellent memory to track all the changes – and to remember which ones become effective, when. You need a good network of tax professionals to help and guide you. (Like Team TaxMama®) And you need a great imagination – to understand clients’ explanation and record-keeping systems – and IRS and state officials’ requests.

And most important of all – you need a great sense of humor!

Privilege and the Enrolled Agent

The IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 allow federally authorized practitioners (those bound by the Department of Treasury’s Circular 230 regulations) a limited client privilege.

This privilege allows for confidentiality to exist between the taxpayer and the Enrolled Agent under certain conditions.

The privilege applies to situations in which the taxpayer is being represented in non-criminal cases involving audits and collection matters. It applies to tax planning and tax advice. 

It is not applicable simply to the preparation and filing of a tax return.

This privilege does not apply to confidentiality with other Federal agencies or to state tax matters, although a number of states have an accountant-client privilege.

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Are Enrolled Agents required to take continuing professional education?

In addition to the stringent testing and application process, the IRS requires Enrolled Agents to complete 72 hours of continuing professional education in a three year time period. It is acceptable to complete only 16 hours in any given year – as long as the three year total is 72 hours.

The education must include at least 2 hours of ethics every year. And only tax topics are acceptable for these education credits. Unlike CPAs or Attorneys, EAs may not count practice management or administration as acceptable courses.
Members of certain tax societies my have to complete a higher set of hours each year. Because of the knowledge necessary to become an Enrolled Agent and the requirements to maintain the license, there are only about 56,000 practicing Enrolled Agents (compared to about 190,000 CPAs and 24,000 tax attorneys).

What are the differences between Enrolled Agents and other tax professionals?

Only Enrolled Agents are required to demonstrate  their competence in matters of taxation before they may represent a taxpayer before the IRS. Unlike attorneys and CPAs, who may or may not choose to specialize in taxes, all Enrolled Agents specialize in taxation in order to maintain their credentials. EAs must stay up-to-date on changes in the tax laws every year.

Enrolled Agents are the only taxpayer representatives who receive their right to practice from the U.S. Treasury (CPAs and attorneys are licensed by the states).

Are Enrolled Agents bound by any ethical standards?

Enrolled Agents are required to abide by the provisions of the Department of Treasury’s Circular 230, which provides the regulations governing the practice of Enrolled Agents before the IRS. However, the Circular 230 rules apply to all tax professionals – including CPAs and Attorney. 

Members of tax associations are also bound by a Code of Ethics and Rules of Professional Conduct by their own associations.


Why should I choose an Enrolled Agent who is a member of NAEA or NATP or ASTPS?

The principal concern of the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA), the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP), and the American Society of Tax Problem Solvers (ASTPS) and their members is the honest, intelligent and ethical representation of the financial position of taxpayers before the governmental agencies. Members of these associations must fulfill higher continuing professional education requirements than the IRS’ required minimum. In addition. 

In particular, NAEA and ASTPS provided specialized training so tax professionals can help taxpayers get offers in compromise on large balances, to represent taxpayers in IRS audits, or file IRS appeals – or find other solutions to reduce or eliminate taxes, penalties or interest – under the law. 

How can I find an Enrolled Agent?

The easiest and fastest way to locate an Enrolled Agent in your area is to visit NAEA’s Find a Tax Expert tool, which will  allow you to search  by locality or specialty. You can also use the IRS Tax Professional database to locate Enrolled Agents near you.

You might also want to check in your local yellow pages under ‘Tax Preparation’, and look for the phrase ‘Enrolled Agent, Enrolled to Represent Taxpayers before the IRS’ or the ‘EA” credential following the professional’s name.