Once you receive your application for enrollment back from the IRS (which you will have submitted within 1 year of passing the Enrolled Agent exam), you will officially be an enrolled agent (EA). Congratulations!
You will have worked very hard to get to this point, and the majority of your EA journey will be over. However, preserving your EA status necessitates that you meet the enrolled agent CPE requirements.
Therefore, your EA journey will continue. So, learn what meeting these requirements will look like and how to do it.
The initialism “CPE” stands for continuing professional education. CPE is also known as CE for “continuing education”. The IRS has determined that enrolled agents must complete CPE courses in order to maintain the enrolled agent designation. You can also find discounted CPE courses available from our favorite provider.
The enrolled agent CPE requirements are:
Along with the 2 hours of ethics, the 16 hours of enrolled agent continuing education credits that you’re to earn each year must also include 3 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 Courses|
Per Enrollment Cycle
|Ethics or Professional Conduct|
|Federal Tax Law Updates|
Federal Tax Law Topics
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 3 years in order to acquire the 72 CPE credits for enrolled agents.
The IRS does not allow enrolled agents to carry excess EA CPE credit hours 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 CPE credits than you need, these additional hours will count toward your general CPE hours for that enrollment cycle.
Additionally, you can earn enrolled agent CPE credit for serving as an instructor, discussion leader, or speaker of an EA CPE course, if you so desire.
You can receive 1 CPE credit for each contact hour you complete as an instructor, discussion leader, or speaker at an IRS-approved educational program. As well, you can earn 2 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 6.
As the first requirement indicates, you must meet these enrolled agent CPE requirements during a 3-year period. The beginning and end of each 3-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 3 years to complete 72 CPE hours during your first renewal cycle. In this case, you must complete 2 hours of CPE per month of your enrollment and 2 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 terminate on March 31, 2023. Additionally, you would have to obtain 24 hours of CPE before the close of your cycle.
Therefore, you 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 6 hours of ethics during each enrollment cycle.
I’ve recreated both of those charts for you here.
|Renewal Cycle||Renewal Application Period||Renewal Cycle Expiration|
7, 8, 9, & No SSN
|2018-2021||November 1, 2017, through January 31, 2018||March 31, 2018|
|0, 1, 2, 3||2019-2022||November 1, 2018, through January 31, 2019|
March 31, 2019
|4, 5, 6||2020-2023||November 1, 2019, through January 31, 2020|
March 31, 2020
|Year of Enrollment||Calendar Month Enrollment Granted||Renewal Cycle|
7, 8, 9, & No SSN
0, 1, 2, 3
4, 5, 6
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 3 months to renew your license.
To renew, you must do the following:
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 this information for 4 years:
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 use 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 (Special Enrollment Examination (SEE)).
In 2018, 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 2015 and 2018 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 2018 cycle. The IRS sent the inactive letters in June.
If you are unable to fulfill the minimum EA continuing education requirements for an enrollment cycle due to extenuating circumstances, you may be able to request a waiver of the requirements. To know if you qualify for the request, you must refer to Section 10.6(j) of the Treasury Department Circular 230.
As mentioned, your EA CPE courses must address federal taxation. 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
The topics of EA CPE courses should also cover tax planning, which involves applying federal tax rules to prospective transactions and understanding the tax implication of unusual or complex transactions.
Both live and self-study enrolled agent CPE courses are available. For this reason, you are allowed to pick whichever class format appeals to you.
If you choose the self-study format, 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.
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.
Don’t be confused: Enrolled Agent exam prep is not the same thing as EA CPE courses. Consequently, you can’t count your EA review course as EA CPE. But, 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.
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. For more help with the EA exam, sign up for my EA newsletter!