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IRS SEE Exam Format and Syllabus for Part 1, 2 and 3

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The IRS Special Enrollment Exam, known as the SEE, is a 3-part exam. Each part is 3.5 hours long, plus half an hour for tutorial at the beginning and survey at the end.

SEE Exam Structure

The exam consists of 100 multiple choice questions with equal weighting. 85 questions are scored questions and 15 questions are experimental.

By experimental questions, it means that these questions are included to test for their suitability for future exams. They are not scored.

A new exam is introduced each May based on tax law through December 31 of the previous year.

SEE Exam Format in 3 Parts

The exam is divide into three exam sections:

  • Part 1: Individual
  • Part 2: Business
  • Part 3: Representation

IRS SEE Exam Part 1EA Exam Part 1

Part 1 focuses on individual taxation, covering income from various sources, deduction and credits, as well as specialized items such as estate and gift tax. It also touches upon an EA’s advisory role. You can see the breakdown on the right.

This part is relatively straight-forward with pass rate in the range of 77 – 83% in the last three years. Here is the content area:

Preliminary Work and Taxpayer Data

  • Preliminary work to prepare tax returns

Income and Assets

  • Income
  • Retirement income
  • Property, real and personal
  • Self-employment tax

Deductions and Credits

  • Itemized deductions
  • Credits

Taxation and Advice

  • Taxation
  • Advising the individual taxpayer

Specialized Returns for Individuals

  • Estate tax
  • Gift tax
  • FBAR

IRS SEE Exam Part 2EA Exam Part 2

Part 2 covers business taxation. It is considerably more difficult given the more complex nature of corporate taxation. This is reflected in the lower pass rate of 60% for the past 3 years.

A basic knowledge in accounting will help in Part 2. It’s also worth spending more time on practice questions for this part. Here is the content area:

Business Entities

  • Business entities and considerations
  • Partnerships
  • Corporations in general
  • Forming a corporation
  • S corporations

Business Financial Information

  • Business income
  • Business expenses, deductions and credit
  • Analysis of financial record
  • Business assets
  • Advising the business taxpayer

Specialized Return and Taxpayers

  • Trust and estate income tax
  • Exempt organization
  • Retirement plans
  • Farmers

IRS SEE Exam Part 3EA Exam Part 3

Interestingly, Part 3 is likely the easiest for most candidates. The pass rate hovered around 86 and 88% in the last 3 years.

Here is the content area:

Practices and Procedures

  • Practice before the IRS
  • Requirements for Enrolled Agent
  • Sanctionable acts
  • Rules and penalties

Representation before the IRS

  • Power of attorney
  • Building the taxpayer’s case
  • Taxpayer financial situation
  • Supporting documentation
  • Legal authority and references
  • Related issues

Specific Types of Representation

  • Representing a taxpayer in the collection process
  • Penalties and/or interest abatement
  • Representing a taxpayer in audits/examinations
  • Representing a taxpayer before appeal

Completion of the Filing Process

  • Accuracy
  • Information shared with taxpayer
  • Record maintenance
  • Electronic filing

For Your Further Reading

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