|Q. What is
an "Enrolled Agent"
A. 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.
What does the term “Enrolled Agent” mean?
“Enrolled” means to be licensed to practice by the federal
government, and “Agent” means authorized to appear in the place
of the taxpayer at the IRS. Only Enrolled Agents, attorneys, and
CPAs may represent taxpayers before the IRS. The Enrolled Agent
profession dates back to 1884 when, after questionable claims
had been presented for Civil War losses, Congress acted to
regulate persons who represented citizens in their dealings with
the U.S. Treasury Department.
How does one become an Enrolled Agent?
The license is earned in one of two ways, by passing a
comprehensive examination which covers all aspects of the tax
code, or having worked at the IRS for five years in a position
which regularly interpreted and applied the tax code and its
regulations. All candidates are subjected to a rigorous
background check conducted by the IRS.
How can Enrolled Agent help me?
Enrolled Agents advise, represent, and prepare tax returns for
individuals, partnerships, corporations, estates, trusts, and
any entities with tax-reporting requirements. Enrolled Agents’
expertise in the continually changing field of taxation enables
them to effectively represent taxpayers audited by the IRS.
Privilege and the Enrolled Agent
The IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 allow federally
authorized practitioners (those bound by the Department of
Treasury’s Circular 230 regulations) a limited client privilege.
This privilege allows confidentiality between the taxpayer and
the Enrolled Agent under certain conditions. The privilege
applies to situations in which the taxpayer is being represented
in cases involving audits and collection matters. It is not
applicable to the preparation and filing of a tax return. This
privilege does not apply to state tax matters, although a number
of states have an accountant-client privilege.
Are Enrolled Agents required to take continuing professional
In addition to the stringent testing and application process,
the IRS requires Enrolled Agents to complete 72 hours of
continuing professional education, reported every three years,
to maintain their Enrolled Agent status. NAEA members are
obligated to complete 90 hours per three year reporting period.
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.
What are the differences between Enrolled Agents and other tax
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
from the U.S. government (CPAs and attorneys are licensed by the
Are Enrolled Agents bound by any ethical standards?
Enrolled Agents are required to abide by the provisions of the
Department of Treasury’s Circular 230, which provides the
regulations governing the practice of Enrolled Agents before the
IRS. NAEA members are also bound by a Code of Ethics and Rules
of Professional Conduct of the Association.
Why should I choose an Enrolled Agent who is a member of the
National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA)?
The principal concern of the National Association of Enrolled
Agents and its members is honest, intelligent and ethical
representation of the financial position of taxpayers before the
governmental agencies. Members of NAEA must fulfill continuing
professional education requirements that exceed the IRS’
required minimum. In addition, NAEA members adhere to a
stringent Code of Ethics and Rules of Professional Conduct of
the Association, as well as the Treasury Department’s Circular
230 regulations. NAEA members belong to a strong network of
experienced, well-trained tax professionals who effectively
represent their clients and work to make the tax code fair and
How can I find an Enrolled Agent?
The easiest and fastest way to locate an Enrolled Agent in your
area is to visit www.naea.org. The ‘Find an EA’ function located
on the home page will allow you to search instantly by locality
or specialty. You can also call 800-424-4339, the EA referral
service. This is an unattended service, but you can request to
receive your response by email, fax or mail and all calls are
answered within 2 business days. You might also want to check in
your local yellow pages under ‘Tax Preparation’, and look for
the phrase ‘Enrolled Agent, Enrolled to Represent Taxpayers
before the IRS’ or the ‘EA” credential following the
Truth about dealing with the IRS
You’ve seen the ads on t.v. and
heard them on the radio from the national firms promising to get
the liens and levies released, and, settling your debt with IRS
for pennies on the dollar. (that term really makes IRS
bristle).The truth is that IRS will not release Federal tax
liens unless it was there mistake in filing it in the first
place. The only way to get that lien released quickly is to pay
the amount you owe in full. Recently, however, there has been
movement to withdraw the lien if you enter into a payment
agreement and have direct debit.The truth about getting a bank
or wage levy released is the only way is to provide IRS
financial information that shows either a hardship situation, or
by entering into a payment arrangement.
WHAT IS AN OFFER IN
An offer in compromise is a
settlement between the Internal Revenue Service and taxpayer for
an amount less than what is owed.
ARE THE REQUIREMENTS OF AN OFFER:
If you have the ability to pay the
amount you owe in full, either through the liquidation of assets
or by a monthly payment agreement, then you don't qualify for an
IRS has 10 years to collect the
Also, before you can submit an offer
you must be current in filing all tax returns, and, if self
employed, must be making the required estimated tax payments.
HOW MUCH WILL I HAVE TO
You must offer net equity in assets,
taking quick sale value into consideration, along with the
present value of future income.
IRS ACCEPTING OFFERS?:
The Internal Revenue Service is
accepting more offers than in the past.
Recent changes to how IRS
investigates the offer and the types of offers has made it
easier for people who weren't able to fund an offer in the past,
to now be able to settle their debt with IRS.
I GET PROFESSIONAL HELP AND WHO SHOULD I HIRE:
Any time you deal with the Internal
Revenue Service, you should not do it alone, unless you are
completely confident in your ability to negotiate with them.
You should hire someone that
understands all of the aspects of the collection process of
Internal Revenue Service, including Offer in Compromises.
A former IRS Revenue Officer who is
now an Enrolled Agent is your best bet because the understand
the workings of IRS.
You don't need an accountant or
attorney, both are more costly and the only time an attorney
would be needed is if you had to go to court against the IRS.
However, the courts cannot tell IRS
to accept an offer in compromise, they can only send it back for
To get more
information on this or any other issues you have with I.R.S.
call me at (603) 552-5106, (978) 330-2303 or email me at
Regulations require us to notify you that any tax advice on
this website (including any attachments) is not intended or
written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of
avoiding tax penalties.