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Enrolled Agent, EA Certification: Details on Examination and Certification for Enrolled Agents

Written by AnonymousNovember 3, 2011
Enrolled Agent

If you’re looking to improve your career in accounting, obtaining an accounting certificate is an excellent first step.  Accounting certificates can expand your accounting knowledge and increase your proficiency in a specific area of the accounting field.

Introduction to Enrolled Agent Certification

Enrolled Agents (EA) are tax professionals authorized by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before the International Revenue Service (IRS). They can represent taxpayers at all administrative levels of the IRS and, because they hold a federal license, they can practice in any state.

Earning the EA designation, which is issued by the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA), has the potential to:

  • Demonstrate your advanced competence in tax matters to both the IRS and clients
  • Expand your employment opportunities
  • Increase your earning potential

Key Steps to Enrolled Agent Certification

There are two ways to become an Enrolled Agent. In order to become certified you must do one of the following:

  • Pass the online Special Enrollment Examination, which demonstrates your advanced tax knowledge
  • Possess an acceptable amount of past IRS work experience, as determined by NAEA

Both approaches require that you undergo a background check prior to submitting your enrollment form. If the background check reveals that you didn’t file or pay your taxes in a timely manner at any time in the past, you may be denied enrollment.

Details of the Special Enrollment Examination

The Special Enrollment Exam is a computer-based test offered at Prometric test sites throughout the year, with the exception of March and April. The test consists of three parts, each containing 100 multiple-choice questions. Content is distributed as follows:

  • Part 1 – Individuals
  • Part 2 – Businesses
  • Part 3 – Representation, practice, and procedures

Each part of the exam costs $101 as of 2011. Though the parts can be taken in any order at your convenience, you have two years from the time you pass one part of the exam to pass the other two parts.

Preparing for the Enrolled Agent Exam

You have many options when it comes to preparing for the Special Enrollment Examination. The NAEA offers several review courses in a variety of formats: instructor-led, live, and online. In addition, the NAEA website features a long list of approved self-paced study courses offered by other tax education organizations.

Maintaining the Enrolled Agent Designation

In order to maintain the Enrolled Agent designation, you’re required to earn 72 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) credits within the three-year reporting cycle. You’re required to earn a minimum of 16 hours per year, including two hours in ethics.

In order to qualify, activities must be designed to enhance your professional competence in matters related to the following topics:

  • Federal taxation
  • Deferral tax compliance
  • Tax planning
  • Tax preparation
  • Ethics

Governing Board Information

Enrolled Agent certification is issued by:
The National Association of Enrolled Agents
1120 Connecticut Avenue, NW Suite 460
Washington, DC 20036-3953
202.822.NAEA (6232)