​​Enrolled Agent Designation

Thinking of Becoming an Enrolled Agent? When you choose to become an enrolled agent (EA), you’re choosing to:

  • Increase your tax knowledge and expertise.
  • Expand your practice, services and customer base.
  • Open yourself up to new career opportunities.
  • Set yourself apart from the competition.
  • Increase your earning potential.

Becoming an EA is both a professional and personal milestone that recognizes that you have demonstrated tax competence and have earned the right to represent all clients regarding federal tax matters.

View EA exam study options

What Being an EA Means

Over the years, we’ve watched many of our members achieve the EA designation. Members have stated that earning the designation is a great way to earn more respect from the IRS and showcase their dedication to the tax industry.

An EA designation means you:

  • Never have to turn clients away because of situations that are outside your professional reach.
  • Hold unlimited practice rights.
  • Are able to bring in more off-season work and operate your business all year.

It also means an increase in salary. On average, EAs earn nearly 10% more per return than someone without a designation.

When you make the choice to become an EA, you’re demonstrating a commitment to excellence, as well as special tax competence that supports and services all your clients’ needs.

How Do I Become an EA?

Here are the steps to earning the EA designation:

1. Obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN)​
2. Apply to take the Special Enrollment Exam (SEE), a standardized national exam administered through Prometic.​
3. Achieve passing scores on all three parts of the SEE.​
4. Apply for enrollment.​
5. Pass a background check.​


To ensure the test taking process is as painless as possible, here are a few things to keep in mind when scheduling your exam:

  • The exam is administered through Prometric and is only offered from May 1 to February 28 of the following year.
  • You can take the three parts in any order and, if you pass part of the exam, you can carry over passing scores up to two years from the date you took the exam.
  • You can take each part of the exam up to four times per testing period.
  • After passing all three parts, you must adhere to certain ethical standards and complete 72 hours of continuing education every three years (a minimum of 16 hours of continuing education, including two hours on ethics and professional conduct, must be completed each year).

For more information and testing specifics, check out the IRS Enrolled Agent Special Enrollment Examination Candidate Information Bulletin. This comprehensive guide outlines test center procedures and regulations, the carryover and rescheduling policies, how to apply for enrollment and much more.

What are the EA Representation Rights

By becoming an EA, you’ll have unlimited practice rights, making you unrestricted as to:

  • Which taxpayers you can represent (similar rights as CPAs and attorneys).
  • Which types of tax matters you can handle.
  • Which IRS offices you can represent clients before.

The chart below breaks down all the rights you’ll have when you become an EA.

​No
Designation

AFSP

EA

​CPA
Provide missing information
Call about processing
​Receive notices/copies
Respond about math errors and preparation
​Argue tax law
Talk/disagree with the IRS on a tax return he/she prepared
Talk/disagree with the IRS for the taxpayer on a return anyone preparered
​Talk with the IRS in an audit on a tax return that anyone prepared
Talk with the IRS Collections Officer
​Handle appeals

What to Expect

The Special Enrollment Exam (SEE) consists of three parts:

  • Part 1 – Individual Taxation
  • Part 2 – Business Income Tax Returns, Estate and Trust Income Tax Returns, Retirement Plans and Exempt Organizations
  • Part 3 – Representation, Practice and Procedures

Each part of the SEE contains 100 questions. All questions are scored, with the exception of 15 experimental questions that are unscored.

To get a feel for the types of questions on the exam, check out the IRS's SEE Questions and Official Answers resources.

EA Member Benefit

NATP membership includes access to the EA Exam Review - Part 1. Personalize the pace and direction of your EA exam preparation with Gleim’s review materials. This course includes digital books, test bank of questions and a realistic practice environment.

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If you’re not planning on earning your EA designation, membership also includes the AFTR Course & Exam.

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