Hi, future EA! My name is Stephanie. I'm a CPA Exam guide author and the person behind this site. I have been answering questions on how to best prepare for the Enrolled Agent exam for years now, and I'm excited to help you pass the EA exam!
Follow these steps to learn about the Enrolled Agent exam application, requirements, content and format. You'll also receive my EA review course recommendations, study tips, and strategies for exam day.
An enrolled agent (EA) is a tax practitioner with technical expertise in taxation.
By dissecting the phrase, we learn that “enrolled” means licensed to practice before the federal government. And “agent” means someone authorized to appear in place of the taxpayer before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Therefore, we can see that an enrolled agent is fully authorized to represent taxpayers before all administrative levels of the IRS.
Furthermore, EAs can handle any type of tax matter (even collections, appeals, and audits), work with any taxpayer in any state, and take client matters before any IRS office.
Enrolled agents deal with any and all tax matters for tax payers. They are tax professionals who can offer a wide range of services to the public, including:
Enrolled agents also enjoy all the tax privileges Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) enjoy, such as the ability to:
EAs can work for all kinds of organizations across all industries. They’re in demand in banks, departments of revenue, corporate accounting departments, accounting firms, law firms, investment firms, and private practices.
However, most EAs work in accounting practices and compete with CPAs, bookkeepers, and other accountants.
Along with unlimited representation before the IRS, earning the EA affords many major career benefits, including:
Once the IRS awards you the enrolled agent designation, you’ll officially be a tax expert. And you’ll earn the title as you earn the designation, because the process of meeting the EA requirements involves increasing your tax knowledge and abilities. The EA designation also increases your credibility, because the Department of Treasury regulates it and all 50 states recognize it.
That amount of universal acceptance sets EAs apart from CPAs, who receive their licenses from individual state boards. CPAs meet different licensure requirements and don’t have to understand tax as deeply to earn their license, so they might not be as competent in tax matters as EAs.
CPAs are also not as committed to tax specialization as EAs, so EAs are known as the most dedicated and qualified of tax professionals.
As confirmed tax experts with unlimited rights before the IRS, enrolled agents never have to turn down opportunities to make money by supplying tax services. Therefore, they can complete more complicated tax returns and thereby multiple their earning potential.
With so much work available to them, EAs can also affect their own salaries by determining if they want to work full- or part-time as well as year-round or just during busy season. Enrolled agents can even decide if they want to work for themselves or someone else.
On average, EAs earn about 10% more per return than unenrolled tax preparers. And enrolled agent salaries can range from $42,000 for entry-level positions to $60,000 for late-career positions.
The demand for enrolled agents is as constant as the obligation to pay taxes, which is one of the most constant parts of life. Everyone in the United States must pay their taxes, so the EA client base is every family, small business, and big corporation in the country.
Therefore, no matter the economic weather, EAs are sure to have work to do. In tough times, the EA designation will keep you in business. And with the IRS increasing the number of examinations they perform each year, more people need EAs in healthy times as well.
The tax code changes regularly, so as long as you keep up with your continuing education (CE), you can keep yourself financially stable with the enrolled agent designation.