With tax regulations becoming more convoluted and confusing every time they’re “simplified,” and with the puzzling differences between state and federal tax laws, now is the time to review your tax situation. There are federally licensed tax professionals who can help you.
The Enrolled Agent (EA) designation originated in 1884 to regulate agents who represented U.S. citizens with claims for Civil War losses. Today, EAs represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service and help prepare returns for individuals, partnerships, corporations, estates, trusts, and other tax entities. EAs are also experts in tax planning, and can help you ensure that you don’t pay too much or risk an audit.
Unlike lawyers or CPAs, Enrolled Agents specialize in taxation. Throughout the year they advise, represent and prepare returns for individuals, partnerships, corporations, estates, trusts and any entities with tax-reporting requirements. In California, for example, the more than 4,100 Members of the California Society of Enrolled Agents prepare almost 2,000,000 tax returns each year. Enrolled Agents’ expertise in the constantly changing field of tax law enables them to be effective representatives when taxpayers are audited by the IRS.
What qualifications are required to become an EA and maintain enrollment?
There are only two ways to earn the Enrolled Agent designation. The first route is to take a four- part examination, one of the most difficult professional examinations in the country. This test covers all aspects of taxation, including ethics. The application process includes a thorough background investigation.
The other way to become an EA is to be employed by the IRS for a minimum of five years, regularly interpreting and applying the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code and regulations.
Following successful enrollment, EAs are required to maintain a rigorous schedule of professional education in the tax field. Because of the difficulty in becoming enrolled and maintaining that enrollment, fewer than 45,000 tax professionals are currently enrolled as EAs. When you sit down with an Enrolled Agent, you are sitting down with the ultimate tax expert.
How is an EA different from other tax preparers?
Enrolled Agents are required to demonstrate competence in matters of taxation; their right to represent taxpayers comes directly from the U.S. government Department of the Treasury. Unlike many tax preparers for whom tax preparation is a seasonal job from January through April 15, EAs provide tax services year-round in the field of tax planning, preparation, and representation.
How do I know if my tax preparer is an Enrolled Agent?
Look for the “We SpEAk Tax” designation, and insist that your tax preparer be a Member of the California Society of Enrolled Agents (CSEA). Members of CSEA are required to fulfill 25% more professional education every year than any other Enrolled Agents. CSEA Members not only SpEAk Tax – they speak it fluently!