Enrolled agents (EAs) are America’s tax experts. They are the only federally-licensed tax practitioners who both specialize in taxation and have unlimited rights to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service. These tax specialists have earned the privilege of representing taxpayers before the IRS by either passing a comprehensive three-part (10-hour) examination covering individual tax returns; business tax returns; and, representation, practice and procedure, or through relevant experience as a former IRS employee. All candidates are subjected to a rigorous background check conducted by the IRS.
I did it the hard way - I took the tests.
How Is That Different From Other Tax Preparers?
The enrolled agent license is the most expansive license the IRS grants a tax professional. Enrolled agents are generally unrestricted as to which taxpayers they can represent, what types of tax matters they can handle, and the IRS offices before which they may practice. Unlike attorneys and CPAs, who may or may not choose to specialize in taxes, all enrolled agents specialize in taxation. CPAs and attorneys are licensed by the states, but enrolled agents are federally licensed. While the IRS requires all preparers to obtain and maintain a valid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN), enrolled agents have gone far beyond the basic requirements and have demonstrated their expertise through testing.
What Does the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA) Do?
The IRS recommends using a tax preparer who is a member of a professional organization offering continuing education and other resources, and holding members to a code of ethics. NAEA goes beyond the IRS’ recommendations by requiring members to fulfill 25% more continuing education requirements than the IRS requires. In addition, NAEA members must adhere to a stringent Code of Ethics and Rules of Professional Conduct. Members of NAEA 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 reasonably enforced.
Code of Ethics of the NAEA
1. Members and associates will, in personal and public life, strive to enhance the status of enrolled agents (EA) and promote their qualifications to serve the public.
2. Members and associates will demonstrate honesty, integrity, and objectivity in all their professional actions and relationships.
3. Members and associates will continually strive to improve upon their competence to practice by keeping informed and educated about tax practice and representation.
4. Members and associates will maintain the confidentiality of professional relationships.
5. Members and associates will support efforts to advance the reputation and prestige of the EA license.
6. Members and associates will comply with the most current provisions of Treasury Department Circular 230 and the NAEA Code of Ethics and Rules of Professional Conduct.
7. Members and associates will not knowingly misrepresent or omit information when preparing or approving and filing tax returns, documents, affidavits, and other papers relating to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) matters. If a client insists on the misrepresentation or omission, the Member or Associate should withdraw and refuse to prepare the return or other documents.