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What is an EA?
An Enrolled Agent (EA) is a federally-authorized tax practitioner who has technical expertise in the field of taxation and who is empowered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before all administrative levels of the Internal Revenue Service for audits, collections, and appeals. Only Enrolled Agents, attorneys, and CPAs may represent taxpayers before the IRS. Enrolled agents, like attorneys and CPAs, are unrestricted as to which taxpayers they can represent and what types of tax matters they can handle. Enrolled Agents are certified through the IRS and can practice in any state. While the Enrolled Agent license was created in 1884 and has a long and storied past, today’s EAs are the only tax professionals who must pass a series of stringent examinations administered by the IRS on their
knowledge of tax law and regulations. EAs adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct and are required by the IRS to take Continuing Professional Education. Because of the knowledge necessary to become an Enrolled Agent and the requirements to maintain the license, there are only about 46,000 practicing Enrolled Agents.
Only Enrolled Agents are required to demonstrate to the IRS their competence in matters of taxation before they may represent a taxpayer before the IRS. Unlike attorneys and CPAs, who may or may not choose to specialize in taxes, all Enrolled Agents specialize in taxation. Enrolled Agents are the only taxpayer representatives who receive their right to practice directly from the U.S. government (CPAs and attorneys are licensed by the states and must be licensed in each state in which they practice). Enrolled Agents, as well as all attorneys and Certified Public Accountants, are governed by Treasury Circular 230 in their practice before the IRS.