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Continuing Education Requirements for Enrolled Agents: How to Earn CE for EAs

enrolled agent cpe requirements

Once you receive your application for enrollment back from the IRS (which you will need to submit within one year of passing the Enrolled Agent exam), you will officially be an enrolled agent (EA). Congratulations! You have worked very hard to get to this point, and the majority of your EA journey is over. However, preserving your EA status means that you must meet EA CPE requirements.

Therefore, your EA journey will continue. Thus, you’ll need to learn what meeting these requirements will look like and how to do it.

Enrolled Agent CPE Requirements

The acronym CPE stands for “continuing professional education.” Additionally, CPE is known as CE for “continuing education.” The terms are interchangeable. The IRS has determined that enrolled agents must complete CPE courses in order to maintain the EA designation. You can find discounted CPE courses available from our favorite provider, Becker Continuing Education.

The IRS enrolled agent CE requirements are:

Along with the 2-hour ethics CPE EA, the 16 hours of enrolled agent continuing education credits that you earn each year must also include three hours of federal tax law updates and 10 hours of federal tax law topics. This chart displays your annual and total number and type of credit hours.

EA CPE Requirements

EA CPE Courses

Per Year

Per Enrollment Cycle

Ethics or Professional Conduct

2

6

Federal Tax Law Updates

3

9

Federal Tax Law Topics

10

30

In addition, you must finish your enrolled agent CPE courses/programs by midnight your time on December 31 in order for them to count for the current enrollment cycle. Moreover, the 16 hours’ worth of enrolled agent CPE courses you must complete each year is just a minimum. You will have to take more courses than that for at least one of the three years in order to acquire the 72 CE hours for enrolled agents.

Details about IRS Enrolled Agent CPE Requirements

The IRS does not allow enrolled agents to carry excess EA CPE credits over from one enrollment cycle to the next. Nor does the IRS allow you to repeat an EA CPE program within the same enrollment cycle. If you earn more EA ethics CE hours than you need, these additional hours will count toward your general CPE hours for that enrollment cycle.

Additionally, you can earn CPE credit for EA by serving as an instructor, discussion leader, or speaker of an EA CPE course, if you so desire. You’ll receive one CPE credit for each contact hour you complete as an instructor, discussion leader, or speaker at an IRS-approved educational program.

Also, you can earn two credit hours for the time you spend preparing for each hour as an instructor, discussion leader, or speaker. However, the total number of EA CPE hours you earn as an instructor, discussion leader, or speaker during a year cannot be more than six.

EA CPE Deadlines

As the first requirement indicates, you must meet these CE requirements for enrolled agents during a three-year period. The beginning and end of each three-year cycle depend on the month in which you were granted enrollment and the last digit in your Social Security Number (SSN) or your tax identification number (TIN).

However, depending on when your renewal cycle begins and ends, you might not have three full years until you need to renew. In this case, you must complete two hours of CPE per month of your enrollment and two hours of ethics or professional conduct per year.

For example, if your SSN ends with a 7, 8, or 9, and the IRS granted you enrollment in January 2018, your renewal cycle would finish on March 31, 2021. Furthermore, you would need to complete 72 hours of CPE before that date.

Conversely, if a 4, 5, or 6 concludes your SSN, and you received enrollment in January 2020, your renewal cycle would end on March 31, 2023. Additionally, you would have to obtain 24 hours of CPE before the close of your cycle.

Therefore, new EAs must refer to the IRS’s renewal cycle and CPE credit charts to know both when your enrollment cycle ends and how many CPE hours you must acquire before the end of your cycle. But no matter when your cycle begins and ends, you must complete six total hours of enrolled agent ethics CPE during each enrollment cycle.

I’ve recreated both of those charts for you here.

Enrolled Agent Renewal Cycle

SSN Ending

Renewal Cycle Application Period for Renewal Renewal Cycle Expiration

7, 8, 9, & No SSN

2018-2021 November 1, 2020, through January 31, 2021 March 31, 2021
0, 1, 2, 3 2019-2022 November 1, 2021, through January 31, 2022

March 31, 2022

4, 5, 6 2020-2023 November 1, 2022, through January 31, 2023

March 31, 2023

CE Requirements for an Enrollee’s First Renewal Cycle

SSN

Ending

Year of Enrollment Calendar Month Enrollment Granted Renewal Cycle

Jan

Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov

Dec

7, 8, 9, & No SSN

2018

72 70 68 66 64 62 60 58 56 54 52

50

2018-2021

2019

48 46 44 42 40 38 36 34 32 30 28

26

2020

24 22 20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4

2

0, 1, 2, 3

2019

72 70 68 66 64 62 60 58 56 54 52

50

2019-2022

2020

48 46 44 42 40 38 36 34 32 30 28

26

2021

24 22 20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4

2

4, 5, 6

2020

72 70 68 66 64 62 60 58 56 54 52 50

2020-2023

2021

48 46 44 42 40 38 36 34 32 30 28

26

2022 24 22 20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4

2

Enrolled Agent Renewal Process and EA CPE Reporting

As you can see in the Enrolled Agent Renewal Cycle chart, you must renew your EA license at the end of your renewal cycle. You have three months to renew your license.

To renew, you must do the following:

  1. Have an active preparer tax identification number (PTIN).
  2. Complete at least 16 hours of CPE each year of your enrollment cycle for a total of 72 hours that include six hours of ethics or professional conduct (unless this is your first renewal, in which case, you must have two hours of CPE for each month of your enrollment, including two hours of ethics or professional conduct).
  3. Pay the $30 non-refundable renewal fee no matter your enrollment status.

The renewal process requires you to fill out Form 8554 and file it with the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). If you successfully submit this form somewhere between November 1 and January 31 of your assigned year, your enrollment renewal will be effective that April 1.

Once you have renewed your EA license and reported your EA CPE courses, you must keep records of the following information for four years:

  • The name of the enrolled agent CE provider
  • The location of the program
  • The title of the program, approval number of the program, and a copy of the program content.
  • Written outlines, course syllabi, textbook, and/or electronic materials provided or required for the program
  • The date(s) attended
  • The credit hours claimed
  • The name(s) of the instructor(s), discussion leader(s), or speaker(s), if appropriate
  • The certificate of completion and/or signed statement of hours of attendance obtained from the continuing education provider

Failure to Renew Enrollment and Report on EA CE Requirements

If you do not renew within your renewal cycle, your enrollment will expire. Then the IRS will send you a letter specifying the status of your enrollment.

If you miss one renewal cycle, the IRS will place your enrollment in inactive status. According to the conditions of this status, you will be ineligible to practice before the IRS, and you cannot state or imply that you are eligible to represent taxpayers. Furthermore, you also cannot use the term “enrolled agent” or the EA designation. However, so long as you have proof of your CPE, you can still submit a late renewal for approval during that renewal cycle.

In the event that you miss two renewal cycles, the IRS will terminate your enrollment. Then, in order to apply for re-enrollment, you must retake the EA Exam, also called the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE).

In 2021, the IRS terminated the enrollment of EAs with SSNs ending in 7, 8, or 9 and EAs with no SSN who had not renewed for the 2018 and 2021 cycles. The IRS sent the termination letters in May.

Furthermore, the IRS placed in inactive status the enrollment of EAs with SSNs ending in 7, 8, or 9 and EAs with no SSNs who did not renew for the 2021 cycle. The IRS sent the inactive letters in June.

If you are unable to fulfill the minimum IRS EA CPE requirements for an enrollment cycle due to extenuating circumstances, you may be able to request a waiver of the requirements. To determine whether you qualify for the request, you must refer to Section 10.6(j) of the Treasury Department Circular 230.

Specifications for EA CPE Courses

As mentioned, your EA CPE courses must address federal taxation. Plus, the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA) specifies that the aim of these courses must be to enhance your proficiency in federal taxation or federal tax-related matters. Therefore, these courses can include accounting courses, ethics courses, and tax preparation software.

The NAEA goes on to explain that the subject matter of these courses should encompass federal tax compliance, which deals with any of the following:

  • Tax return preparation
  • Tax return review
  • IRS examinations
  • Ruling requests
  • Protests

The topics of EA CPE courses should also cover tax planning, which involves applying federal tax rules to prospective transactions and understanding the tax implications of unusual or complex transactions.

Available Enrolled Agent Continuing Education Courses

Both live and self-study CE courses for enrolled agents are available. For this reason, you are allowed to pick whichever class format appeals to you, including enrolled agent CPE online courses. Additionally, you can find exclusive CPE discounts here.

If you choose the self-study format, such as pre-recorded webinars for enrolled agent CE, you must commit to reviewing all of the material and finishing all of the coursework on your own. Should you pick a live class, your responsibilities will include attending each class and meeting the coursework deadlines.

To be absolutely sure that the enrolled agent CPE courses you are taking will satisfy the IRS CPE requirements, you must check the public listing of IRS-approved continuing education providers. This listing is not complete and does not necessarily reflect all of your options. However, it is a good start.

If your course comes from an approved provider, you may also find that the provider displays the “IRS Approved Continuing Education Provider” logo. Finally, the IRS issues all providers a Provider Number, and the certificate you receive from the course should also contain a program number.

Typically, you can expect to spend between $200-$300 on EA CPE courses per year.

Enrolled Agent CE and Exam Prep Companies

If you used an enrolled agent course to pass the EA exam, then you’ll see some familiar names on the IRS’s list of EA CPE providers. Gleim EA Review, Fast Forward Academy EA Review, TaxMama, Lambers EA, and Surgent EA Review all offer both enrolled agent exam review courses and EA CPE courses. Plus, many Becker CPE courses meet the enrolled agent CPE requirements.

However, don’t get confused: enrolled agent exam prep is not the same thing as an EA CPE course. Consequently, you can’t count your EA review course as IRS enrolled agent CE credits. Alternatively, because some EA review providers also offer CPE for enrolled agents, you can usually save on CPE from the provider you bought your EA exam review course from.

Our Preferred Provider: Becker Continuing Professional Education

When it comes to the best enrolled agent CPE, we recommend CPE learning by Becker. Although there is no review course specifically for the EA exam, the company produces high-quality Becker CPE credits suitable for a number of financial designations, including enrolled agents. Courses may include on-demand video content, webinars with live Q-&A sessions, and even live conferences.

You can purchase individual Becker online CPE courses, opt for course bundles, or sign up for a subscription service. Here are the subscription pass options.

Prime Pass

Select Pass

Essentials Pass

Subscription length

1 year

1 year

90 days

Premium courses

130+

20+

0

State-specific ethics courses

45+

45+

0

Industry-specific courses

25+

25+

0

On-demand courses

700+

570+

475+

Unlimited credits

Downloadable content

Update courses

X

X

Auto-renew

X

X

Price

$699

$399

$299

Aside from these subscriptions, individual courses typically range from $29 for one-credit self-study courses to several hundred dollars for 10- or 12-credit course bundles. The company’s premium content includes hot accounting topics and frequently updated enrolled agent CPE for new tax law. In addition, you can even try a Becker free CPE course and receive real credit. If you decide you like Becker CE, check out our Becker CPE discount code.

Other Providers: Gleim CPE for EA

Gleim, another big name in financial exam prep, also offers a number of EA CPE courses. Unlike CPE from Becker, you purchase bundles from Gleim of a certain number of course hours. Prices range from $12 for one hour to $600 for 100 hours. However, 40 hours, which is the maximum you can receive credit for in any one year, costs $280. Essentially, you pay for hours, not specific courses. With any course or package purchase, you have 12 months to choose and complete the course(s).

When it comes to Gleim CPE vs. Becker CPE, Becker offers a few advantages. First, Becker simply offers many more course options than Gleim. Second, if you purchase a Becker package, you get a subscription for unlimited CPE for a certain amount of time. Third, while Gleim does have some live courses, Becker has a wider variety. Additionally, Becker prioritizes flexibility when it comes to customizing when and what you study.

Luckily, Gleim also offers a few free sample courses, so you can take one (or more) from each company to see what you prefer.

Preparing to Become an Enrolled Agent

Additionally, I have enrolled agent course discounts that you can use to save on Gleim EA Review if you have not yet taken the EA exam. You can also use these discounts to save on Fast Forward Academy EA Review and Surgent EA Review.

Please let me know if you have any more questions by leaving a comment below. And for more help with the EA exam, sign up for my EA newsletter!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do enrolled agents have to do CE?

Yes, all enrolled agents need to participate in continuing education to keep their certifications current.

How many CE for enrolled agents are needed to meet IRS requirements?

The simple answer is that you need 72 hours every three years. You must complete at least 16 hours each calendar year, and two of those hours must be in ethics CPE for enrolled agents. However, the only complication comes in your first enrollment cycle, when your CPE hours are essentially pro-rated based on how much time is left in the cycle. See the table above for specifics.

Do I have to finish all of my CE before I renew my enrolled agent designation?

You have a three-month window at the end of each enrollment cycle to renew your designation. According to the IRS website, you must prove that you have completed your CE to qualify for re-enrollment.

Which company offers the best CPE packages for enrolled agents?

We recommend Becker for EA CE. Becker offers over 1,700 CPE courses, which are available as individual classes, bundles, or part of a subscription service. Becker simply gives you the most options when it comes to completing your EA CPE requirements. Additionally, there are plenty of discounts available for Becker CPE. Check out our Becker CPE promo code for the latest deals.

Are there free CE credits for enrolled agents available?

As of this writing, Becker CPE review offers a free EA CPE ethics course for you to sample the company’s continuing education offerings. However, the company may rotate the types of courses it offers for free, so make sure you check the website before depending on this course to fulfill your requirement.


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About the Author Stephanie

I am the author of How to Pass The CPA Exam (published by Wiley) and the publisher of this and several accounting professional exam prep sites.

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