The Internal Revenue Service is an exceedingly complex organization that oversees an exceptionally complex, at times dizzying, system of taxation, one that requires well-trained and highly skilled tax professionals. Enrolled agents are among the tax professionals that represent taxpayers on a variety of tax issues before the IRS.
What does an enrolled agent do?
An enrolled agent EA is a tax practitioner federally authorized to provide representation to taxpayers. They are able handle a variety of issues ranging from tax returns and collections to audits and appeals. The customer-base this group serves is equally diverse: they help advice and help individuals, groups, corporations, trusts and estates. Essentially, any entity that prepares tax returns falls under the EA’s sphere of influence. By virtue of the federal requirements to enter the profession, many EA’s are experts in the rapidly changing field of taxation, who as advocates for taxpayers in the truest sense of the concept, are particularly skilled at and experienced in negotiating with the IRS.
What kind of training does an enrolled agent need?
While there are technically no specific educational requirements to become an enrolled agent, candidates hoping to enter the field must possess an extensive knowledge of tax code and IRS policies. Moreover, it is not usual for aspiring EAs to have bachelor degrees in tax law or accounting. Others get their start in entry-level positions with the IRS and later become enrolled agents after acquiring the necessary skills and experience through years of service to the organization. In terms of actual requirements to become an EA, the government requires passing a comprehensive examination, called the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE) or collecting 5 years of work experience with the IRS that involved the application of taxation rules. Candidates must also pass an extensive background check.
What is the Ongoing enrolled agent education requirement?
Given the rapidity with which tax rules and laws change, sometimes from year to year, the IRS stipulates that all enrolled agents must complete ongoing enrolled agent training, known as EA CPE requirements, to renew the EA certification. The standard requirement is 72 credit hours for a 3-year cycle, with at least 16 credit hours per year.
There are a variety of education courses offered by various national organizations and third-party education companies. EAs are also eligible to receive 25 CPE credits for attending the annual national conference of the National Association of Enrolled Agents.
What are the career prospects for an enrolled agent?
Experts predict that employment of enrolled agents will outpace the average growth expected of other professions, increasing 13 % from 2008 to 2018. Growing population, coupled with the expansion of the IRS, are the primary factors for this job growth.
Job prospects are likewise expected to be good with strong competition. Job openings will flourish as enrolled agents retire or transfer.
How much does an enrolled agent make?
The average annual salary for enrolled agents is approximately $48,000, according to data released in February 2010, though salaries can vary, sometimes greatly, depending on factors such as location, employer, education and experience. Since enrolled agents can perform the same tasks as an attorney or CPA when dealing with the IRS, a highly skilled enrolled agent salary can surpass both attorneys and CPA’s in representation matters.
Who would make a good enrolled agent?
Becoming an enrolled agent is a logical choice, and can lead to a fulfilling career, for people with a deep interest in the IRS and who enjoy providing representation to taxpayers that present varying tax scenarios, issues and challenges. Because a deep and solid understanding of tax concepts, rules, and regulations is required of enrolled agents, people who are detailed oriented and patient, and who are able to think critically and problem solve typically excel in the profession. Other attributes of a good EA include the ability to communicate and interact with a cross-section of people, and to make tough decisions under a great deal of stress and pressure.