I Pass the Enrolled Agent Exam!

How Many Enrolled Agents Are There?

The enrolled agent certification can help boost your accounting career, particularly if you work in the field of tax preparation or auditing. When learning about this profession, you might naturally wonder how many enrolled agents there are, either in the US or beyond. Luckily, the IRS provides some very specific information on this topic.

What is an enrolled agent (EA)?

According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), an enrolled agent is a person who can represent a taxpayer before the agency. In other words, EAs are nationally-recognized tax experts. EAs may come from any profession, but most are accountants who deal with tax preparation. In order to earn this privilege, a person must take and pass the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE).

How many enrolled agents are there?

Based on the Freedom of Information Act, the IRS provides the names and contact information of all active enrolled agents on its website. As of January 2022, there are 63,203 enrolled agents throughout the world. However, this list updates twice a year, in March and September.

How many IRS enrolled agents are there in the USA?

Although EAs deal specifically with the US tax code, they may be located in other countries to assist international clients paying American taxes. Nevertheless, the vast majority of EAs – 62,973, or 94% – are located in the US.

However, there are also plenty of EAs in the following countries:

  • Canada: 412
  • China: 177
  • Great Britain: 457
  • India: 1,802
  • Japan: 228
  • South Korea: 238

How many enrolled agents are in California?

Currently, there are 12,700 active EAs in the state of California. As a result, it’s the state with the most EAs by far. In comparison, the runners up are Florida with 4,534 and New York with 4,451. Unsurprisingly, states with the largest populations tend to have the most EAs.

How many people take the enrolled agent exam?

Unfortunately, the IRS does not seem to publish numbers of EA exam candidates. Ultimately, this seems a little odd, especially considering how easy it is to find exactly how many IRS enrolled agents are there.

Of those who take the enrolled agent exam, how many pass?

There are three parts to the SEE, also called the enrolled agent exam. You must pass all three to become an EA, and each of the three has a slightly different pass rate. Here’s a breakdown of the last few years. Each date range runs from May of one year to February of the following year, as the exam is not offered in March or April.

EA Exam Pass Rates

Part 2015-2016 2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020 2020-2021
Part 1 72% 61% 61% 62% 61% 66%
Part 2 57% 64% 65% 69% 70% 74%
Part 3 88% 82% 86% 86% 81% 83%

*Note: The 2022 EA exam pass rates aren’t available yet. 

As you can see, Part 3 tends to have the highest pass rate, but Part 1 has the lowest.

How much money does an enrolled agent make?

According to Salary.com, an enrolled agent in the US makes an average of $50,255 as of mid-2023. However, the typical salary range is between $43,926 and $61,232. This is about 10% more than unenrolled tax preparers make. We have a full article about EA salaries if you want more information.

How do I become an enrolled agent?

After finding out how many enrolled agents there are and what they make, if you’d like to become an EA yourself, the steps are relatively easy. In fact, there are no education or experience requirements. Here’s a basic outline of the steps.

Sign up for a PTIN

If you don’t already have a preparer tax identification number (PTIN), visit the IRS website and complete an application. Subsequently, you’ll be able to find your PTIN online.

Take and pass the SEE exam

As previously mentioned, you must pass a three-part exam. Specifically, each part lasts 3.5 hours and consists of 100 multiple-choice questions. Although the Special Enrollment Exam is difficult, there are many EA test prep programs to help you study. Check out my list of the best enrolled agent courses for 2023.

Alternatively, if you’ve worked for the IRS for at least five years, you may qualify for EA status without needing to take the exam. Usually, your experience needs to be in one of the following jobs: appeals officer, special agent, revenue officer or agent, tax or tax law specialist, or settlement officer. If this applies to you, you can fill out a form to apply for the EA certification.

Apply for enrollment status

Once you’ve passed the SEE, you have one year to apply for EA status. You’ll need to fill out some forms and pay a $140 enrollment fee, and then wait about 60 days for processing. During this time, the IRS reviews your personal tax records.

For more information about the process of becoming enrolled, check out my full article on how to become an EA.

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