Yes. The IRS is increasing oversight of federal tax return preparers and laid out its general roadmap in Publication 4832, Return Preparer Review. The agency’s increased oversight is being phased in over several years and implemented through a variety of new regulations, which began with the requirement that paid tax return preparers obtain and use a preparer tax identification number (PTIN). IRS also requires some preparers of tax forms for individuals to demonstrate competency on returns they prepare and to take continuing professional education.
An enrolled agent (EA) is a federally-authorized tax practitioner who has technical expertise in the field of taxation and who is empowered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before all administrative levels—examination, collection, and appeals—of the Internal Revenue Service. In addition to taxpayer representation, enrolled agents often provide tax consultation services and prepare a wide range of federal and state tax returns.
For more detail on how enrolled agents are regulated, Circular 230 provides the rules of practice for enrolled agents, certified public accountants and tax attorneys. The Return Preparer Office (RPO) provides oversight to the enrolled agent profession, including the testing and renewal of enrolled agents.
There are two ways to become an enrolled agent: 1) work for the IRS for five years in a position requiring the interpretation of the tax code; or 2) pass all three parts of the Special Enrollment Exam (SEE) and pass a background check.
Part 1 covers Individuals, Part 2 covers Businesses, and Part 3 includes Representation, Practices and Procedures. A complete list of the topics covered under each part can be found on Prometric’s website in the Candidate Bulletin.
The Becoming an Enrolled Agent section on this Website contains detailed information about the testing process, resources available to candidates and even information about how to keep your license once you’ve earned it. Prometric, the company selected by IRS to administer the SEE, maintains a website where candidates can learn more about the SEE and register for the test.
No. What counts is your knowledge of the tax code, which is proven by passing the SEE. Earning the enrolled agent license demonstrates your advanced knowledge of tax issues.
Yes. NAEA offers both an online prep and in-person review class. The extremely popular online program has four sessions per year. You may take the parts in any order you wish, but only one part in any given session. As a student, you learn by completing study assignments and quizzes as well as by attending periodic facilitator-led conference calls. NAEA’s program provides a start and a finish date, with the expectation that students will take the SEE at the end of the course. NAEA facilitators encourage students and help keep them on track. All facilitators are experienced enrolled agents, as well as qualified and engaging instructors.
Part 1 is an 8 week course, Part 2 is a 10 week course, and Part 3 is a six week course.
There are no set hours -- participants will have access to Gleim’s website 24/7. The online program is geared towards professionals with 3-5 years of experience, and NAEA recommends that students dedicate at least 20 hours per week to studying for the SEE. Students with less experience will need to study more in order to learn the material thoroughly.
NAEA member fee is $349 per section and non-members is $385. Purchasing all three parts at one time saves money; it’s $920 for members, and $995 for nonmembers. Materials are included in the registration fee, which consists of NAEA’s facilitation, and Gleim’s online program, textbook, test prep and audio downloads. Shipping and handling is also included.
Yes, it’s a great idea. Non-enrolled preparers may join as Associates, which offers the same benefits and discounts with the exception of being listed as an enrolled agent. Associates cannot hold office or vote. Joining now provides access to the information which can help you achieve your goals and help build your career!
The SEE is offered ten months a year (every month except March and April). You’ll need to schedule your test in advance by contacting Prometric, which has over 300 sites in the US as well as a number in foreign locations. A list of test locations can be found by clicking on the “Do More” box on the right hand side of the screen. Each part costs $105. Applicants will need a PTIN to schedule a test. Information on acquiring a PTIN is available on IRS’ website.
The SEE is a multiple choice exam, and each question has four potential answers. The question styles may include direct questions, incomplete statements or “all of the following except” questions.
Prometric uses multiple versions of each test, and employs a scaled scoring process to ensure comparability between those versions. Each item in the exam is worth one point, and scaled scores are determined by calculating the number of questions answered correctly from the total number of questions in the examination and converting to a scale that ranges from 40 to 130. The IRS has set the scaled passing score at 105, which corresponds to a minimum level of knowledge deemed acceptable by those persons who will be practicing before the IRS.
Yes. Your test may include some experimental questions that will not be scored. If present, they will be distributed throughout the examination and will not be identified as such. These are used to gather statistical information on the questions before they are added to the exam as scored items. These experimental questions are not counted for or against you in your final examination score.
You’ll know as soon as you complete the test. A failing score is 104 or less, and the program will tell you your score only if you fail. Each part may be taken up to 4 times in any testing year.
Celebrate! Your score will not be released to you, only that you passed. Once you pass one part, you have two years to pass the other two parts of the exam.
Within one year of your final test, submit Form 23, Application for Enrollment, and an application fee directly to IRS. The IRS will take 60-90 days to process your application and conduct a background check, which will include your tax compliance as well as criminal background.
Enrolled agents renew on a staggered schedule, based on the last digit of the enrolled agent’s social security number. To be eligible for renewal for the enrollment cycle, an enrolled agent must complete 72 continuing education (CE) credit hours for the three year cycle, with a minimum of 16 CE per year. Two CE credit hours per year must be in ethics.
Members of the National Association of Enrolled Agents are required to earn 30 CE hours in each calendar year, including two hours of ethics. Members report their hours for the prior calendar year as they renew for the upcoming membership year. NAEA offers many opportunities for CE each year, both in-person and on-line.
Yes. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-822-6232. NAEA’s state affiliates may also offer classes or other resources to help you succeed. We’re happy to help!