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Thinking of Becoming an Enrolled Agent?

Why Becoming an EA Matters

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.

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.

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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 a rise 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:

 

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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.

 

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.

 

 

What to Expect

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

  • Part I – 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.

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Our EA self-study courses and online workshops align with the format of all three parts of the exam. Below, we've detailed the objectives covered in our courses:

Part I – Individual Taxation

  • Assess information from the prior year’s return to thoroughly report current year information.
  • Identify criteria that require an individual to file an income tax return to comply with federal law.
  • Determine if a person meets the definition of a qualifying child or a qualifying relative so the taxpayer can claim the person as a dependent.
  • Identify items of reportable income and expenses for individual taxpayers.
  • Calculate taxable income from retirement plan or IRA distributions to provide the taxpayer with maximum basis recovery.
  • Differentiate between a refundable credit and a nonrefundable credit to provide the taxpayer with the minimum tax due.
  • Categorize the sale or disposition of assets to properly classify and report gain or loss.
  • Explain the tax consequences of gifting either cash or property.
  • Identify the primary filing obligations in regard to a deceased taxpayer.

Part II – Business Income Tax Returns, Estate and Trust Income Tax Returns, Retirement Plans and Exempt Organizations

  • Differentiate between different types of business structures to assist taxpayers in choosing a business entity.
  • Categorize business income and business expenses for proper reporting.
  • Calculate asset depreciation to account for wear and tear on assets.
  • Distinguish items that affect basis in the entity from items that do not affect basis so that business losses are properly allowed.
  • Analyze how tax requirements and limitations affect business tax planning.
  • Analyze business records to adhere to recommended recordkeeping procedures.
  • Analyze trust documents to determine appropriate filing procedures.
  • Describe provisions unique to farmers and other specialized taxpayers.

Part III – Representation, Practice and Procedures

  • Summarize what constitutes practice before the IRS.
  • Identify who can practice before the IRS.
  • Identify supporting documentation and legal authority that can strengthen a taxpayer’s position.
  • Identify types of taxpayer tax information available in transcripts from the IRS.
  • Identify the various tools available in countering the IRS collection process.
  • Apply safeguards to comply with recordkeeping and records maintenance requirements while at the same time maintaining taxpayer confidentiality.

 

New EA Member Benefit

As an organization dedicated to the success of all tax pros, we are thrilled to share our brand new member benefit with you. Members now have FREE access to our EA Part I Review Course! This self-study course is packed with tons of information to help you pass Part I of the EA exam the first time.​

Members - Claim Your FREE EA Course Not a Member? Join Today

You can count on us to help you reach your goals. On top of our new member benefit, members receive discounts on all our education and Tax Store products, including our wide variety of EA courses and materials. Tax pros who use our resources have a 92% pass rate.

Check out our additional EA offerings and materials, including courses, textbooks and study bundles.

For more information on what it means to be an EA and for tips on passing the exam the first time, we invite you to review:

If you’re not planning on earning your EA designation, we’ll still be offering the AFTR Course & Exam to members for free.

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