Enrolled agent

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IRS EA Enrolled Agent License Logo.jpg
License overview
Established July 7, 1884
Credential EA, or E.A.
Licensor Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
Headquarters Washington D.C.
Contact
Office Office of Enrolled Agent
Policy and Management
Address P.O. Box 33968
Detroit, MI 48232-5968
Phone 313-234-1280
Website
www.irs.gov

An enrolled agent (or EA) is a federally authorized tax practitioner empowered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Enrolled agent status is the highest credential awarded by the IRS.[1] The EA credential is recognized across all 50 U.S. states. Attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs) are licensed on a state by state basis, and are also empowered by the Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before the IRS.[2] According to the National Association of Enrolled Agents, there are approximately 48,000 practicing EAs in the United States.

History[edit]

The position of enrolled agent was created as a reaction to fraudulent war loss claims in the wake of the American Civil War with roots tracing back to the Enabling Act of 1884, or General Deficiency Appropriation Bill (H.R. 2735), also known as the "Horse Act of 1884,” which was signed into law by President Chester A. Arthur on July 7, 1884. After the Civil War, many citizens faced difficulties in settling claims with the government for property confiscated for use in the war effort. As a result, Congress endowed enrolled agents with the power of advocacy to prepare claims against the government. From 1884 through the early 20th century, this statute remained largely unchanged.

When the Revenue Act of 1913 was passed, signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson on October 3, 1913, the scope of the enrolled agent was expanded to include claims for monetary relief for citizens whose taxes had become inequitable. As income, estate, gift and other sources of tax collections became more complex, the role of the enrolled agent increased to include the preparation of the many tax forms that were required. As a result of this complexity, audits became more prevalent and the enrolled agent role evolved into taxpayer representation, promulgating a series of statutes which were combined into a single Treasury Department Circular in February 19, 1921, known as Circular 230, to address "the laws and regulations governing the recognition of agents, attorneys, and other persons representing claimants before the Treasury Department and offices thereof."

Unlike enrolled agents of today, the first enrolled agents were appointed with little or no qualifications other than a minimal background in bookkeeping.

Becoming an enrolled agent[edit]

To become an enrolled agent, an applicant must obtain a PTIN and achieve passing scores on all three parts of the Special Enrollment Examination, which covers many aspects of the Internal Revenue Code, or must have worked at the IRS for five consecutive years in a position which regularly engaged in applying and interpreting the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code and the regulations relating to income, estate, gift, employment, or excise taxes. A background check, including a review of the applicant’s personal and business tax compliance,[3] is conducted after an applicant files Form 23, Application for Enrollment to Practice Before the Internal Revenue Service, within one year of completing all three parts of the examination.

Maintaining enrolled agent status[edit]

Renewal for active enrolled agents[edit]

In order to qualify for renewal as an enrolled agent, an individual must complete 72 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) every three years, including two hours of ethics or professional conduct in each of the three years.[4] To prevent overloading of CPEs in any year of an enrollment cycle, the IRS requires a minimum of 16 hours of CPE every year.[5] If an individual has re-taken and passed the Special Enrollment Examination since their last renewal, he or she is required to take only 16 hours of CPE, including two hours of ethics or professional conduct, during the last year of the current enrollment cycle.

Individuals must renew their PTIN between October 16 – December 31 of each year.

Individuals must file Form 8554, Application for Renewal of Enrollment to Practice Before the Internal Revenue Service, within the applicable renewal period.

Renewal periods are based on the last digit of an enrolled agent's Social Security number (SSN)[6][7] or tax identification number:

SSN ends in.. Renewal Period Effective Date
of Renewal
CPE Reporting Period
0, 1, 2, 3 11/01/15 – 01/31/16 04/01/16 01/01/13 – 12/31/15
4, 5, 6 11/01/13 – 01/31/14 04/01/14 01/01/11 – 12/31/13
7, 8, 9 11/01/14 – 01/31/15 04/01/15 01/01/12 – 12/31/14

Renewal after initial enrollment cycle[edit]

Individuals admitted to practice at any time during an enrollment cycle, "the three successive enrollment years preceding the effective date of renewal,"[8] must complete two hours of continuing professional education for each month of enrollment, including two hours of ethics or professional conduct in each year. If an individual receives initial enrollment between November 1 – April 1 of their applicable renewal period, they will not be required to renew until the expiration of the first full three-year enrollment cycle following their initial enrollment.

Failure to renew[edit]

An individual who has not filed a timely application for renewal, who has not made a timely response to the notice of noncompliance, or who has not satisfied the requirements of eligibility for renewal, will be placed on a roster of inactive enrolled individuals. During this time, the individual will be ineligible to practice before the Internal Revenue Service and may not state or imply that they are eligible to represent taxpayers, use the term enrolled agent, or use the EA designation.

Practice before the IRS: Enrolled agents and other practitioners[edit]

The right to practice before the Internal Revenue Service is regulated by Federal statute,[9] and persons authorized to practice are known as "Federally Authorized Tax Practitioners,"[10] or "FATPs". The FATP status is granted to attorneys, certified public accountants, and enrolled agents, each having unlimited representation rights before the Internal Revenue Service. These practitioners may represent their clients on any matters including audits, collection actions, payment issues, tax refund matters, and appeals.[11] FATP status is also granted with limited representation rights to enrolled actuaries, enrolled retirement plan agents, and registered tax return preparers.

Enrolled agents, like other FATPs, are subject to a set of procedures and regulations described in Treasury Department Circular No. 230, Regulations Governing the Practice of Attorneys, Certified Public Accountants, Enrolled Agents, Enrolled Actuaries, and Appraisers before the Internal Revenue Service[12] (or Circular 230).

When practicing before the Internal Revenue Service, enrolled agents may not use the term "certified" in describing their professional designation. An enrolled agent admitted to practice before the Internal Revenue Service may not state or imply that an employer/employee relationship exists between the enrolled agent and the Internal Revenue Service.

Practice in federal courts[edit]

Enrolled agent status does not automatically allow the enrollee to practice before the United States Tax Court. That practice is limited to members of the Bar of the Court. The Internal Revenue Code states, "No qualified person shall be denied admission to practice before the Tax Court because of his failure to be a member of any profession or calling."[13] Bar membership for non-attorneys requires that the applicant pass a Tax Court examination. Attorneys are admitted to the Bar of the Tax Court without having to take the examination.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Internal Revenue Service, "Enrolled Agent Information"
  2. ^ National Association of Enrolled Agents, "What Is An Enrolled Agent?"
  3. ^ Phillips, Michael R., Deputy Inspector General for Audit, Office of Professional Responsibility, Memorandum 2006-10-170. www.treasury.gov/tigta/auditreports/2006reports/200610170fr.html.
  4. ^ "Enrolled Agent CPE Requirements". SequoiaCPE. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  5. ^ "EA CPE Requirements". www.mypescpe.com. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  6. ^ "EA CPE Requirements". www.mypescpe.com. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  7. ^ "Enrolled Agent CPE Requirements". SequoiaCPE. Retrieved 24 March 2014. 
  8. ^ TreasuryDepartment Circular No. 230 § 10.6(e)(1)(ii)
  9. ^ 31 U.S.C. § 330 and 5 U.S.C. § 500.
  10. ^ See also 26 U.S.C. § 7525(a)(3)(A), relating to confidentiality of communications.
  11. ^ Internal Revenue Service, "Understanding Tax Return Preparer Credentials"
  12. ^ Codified in regulations at 31 C.F.R. subtitle A, part 10.
  13. ^ 26 U.S.C. § 7452.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • National Association of Enrolled Agents NAEA
  • Whittington, O. Ray and Delaney, Patrick R. Wiley CPA Exam Review: Regulation. Professional and Legal Responsibilities. p. 55. John Wiley and Sons. 2012.