Celebrating 50 Years of Dedication to Enrolled Agents

In 2022, NAEA proudly celebrated it’s 50 year anniversary, and we were excited to celebrate all that we have accomplished in partnership with our members, employees, clients, advocates, and supporters.

NAEA began as the Association of Enrolled Agents (AEA) in the state of California – which boasted a small but mighty membership base of 35 members as reported on the first membership list issued in October 1972 – all of which were residents of California. Today, our membership reach expands not only across the country but around the globe.

We are grateful to honor 50 years of commitment to the development, promotion, support, and defense of enrolled agents and the EA credential.

NAEA 50th Commemorative Store

Grab your 50th anniversary swag and show your EA pride by shopping our company store. From messenger bags and drinkware to dress and casual shirts, we’ve got your celebration swag here.

How it Started: A  Brief History of Enrolled Agents

The history of Enrolled Agents dates back to 1884 when Congress passed what’s known as the Horse Act of 1884. Signed into law by President Chester A. Arthur on July 7, 1884, the bill was created as a reaction to fraudulent war loss claims in the wake of the American Civil War. After the war, many citizens faced difficulties in settling claims with the government for property confiscated for use in the war effort, and many dubious claims were submitted by scam artists. As a result, Congress endowed enrolled agents with the power of advocacy to prepare claims against the government. A standard was created for enrolled agents that included suitability checks, criminal records check and a moral character evaluation.

1913     In 1913, the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed which declared Congress would have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

In this year, the Revenue Act of 1913 was also passed and signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson. This expanded the scope of enrolled agents to include claims for monetary relief for citizens whose taxes had become inequitable.

The first Form 1040 was released by the IRS.

1921     As income, estate, gift and other sources of tax collections became more complex, the role of the enrolled agent increased to include the preparation of the many tax forms required. Audits became more prevalent and the enrolled agent role evolved into taxpayer representation, promulgating a series of statutes which were combined into a single Treasury Department Circular in February 19, 1921, known as Circular 230, to address “the laws and regulations governing the recognition of agents, attorneys, and other persons representing claimants before the Treasury Department and offices thereof.”

1959     A special enrollment exam was created to qualify representatives before they could represent taxpayers before the IRS.

1966     The Treasury Department began using the Enrolled Agent (Enrolled to Practice before the IRS) title for the professionals it licensed.


California Society of Enrolled Agents. (n.d.). The history of enrolled agents and CSEA. History. Retrieved December 15, 2021, from https://csea.org/CSEA/Your_CSEA/About_Us/History/CSEA/Your_CSEA/History.aspx?hkey=bcd7a01d-b74c-4099-bc5c-bbae0df4a98c

1972     NAEA was founded as the Association of Enrolled Agents (AEA) in 1972 in Hawthorne, California. Through the pioneering efforts of David Smollan, EA, the Founding Chapter of an organization dedicated to Enrolled Agents was established in Los Angeles. Within one year, it was the largest organization of EAs in the country and was the basis for what would later become the National Association of Enrolled Agents.

Patricia Thompson, EA, and Ellery Simpson, EA, called upon Senator Albert S. Rodda (D- CA) (1959-1980) to sponsor a bill that would permit Californians enrolled to practice before IRS to use the letters “E.A.” as a title. The bill was signed by Governor Jerry Brown on April 14, 1979.


1981     District of Columbia Mayor Marion Barry, Jr., proclaimed May 11 as “National Association of Enrolled Agents’ Day.”

1983     During an NAEA convention, the Workshop concept was used for the first time. NAEA had an active membership of 2,828 at this time.


1985     Pat Burton, EA, became the first female president of NAEA.

NAEA’s Board of Directors voted to approve the proposal of Bryan Gates, EA, to start the National Tax Practice Institute (NTPI).

E@lert was launched in December 1985

 1986    The first NTPI session was launched at George Mason University in Washington, DC as a three-year course.

The NAEA Syd Schuldiner Annual Scholarship Award was established, and the Board of Directors voted to establish the NAEA Education Foundation (NAEA-EF).

1989     The NAEA Legal and Legislative Fund was established. The  purpose of its establishment was to provide financial assistance to support State Affiliates or individual Member EAs, at the discretion of NAEA’s Board.

1990     A motion was passed that NAEA suggest to IRS that the CPE required by Trea­sury Circular 230 be increased to 30 hours per year.

1993 – 1994     The Treasury Department finally designates the initials E.A. as that of Enrolled Agent.

NAEA passed a motion that would provide assistance to legislators and government agencies by explaining and clarifying proposed governmental actions that will impact EA clientele.


1994- 1995       YOU’VE GOT MAIL: NAEA was the first practitioner group to go online with AOL.


1995 – 1996     TECH SAVVY: The Board approved that meetings of the board may be held by “conference telephone” or similar communications equipment if all members of the board have been notified and a majority of the board members participate and can hear one another.

1997 – 1998     NAEA began using the ‘consent agenda.’ This decision was made to help streamline the running of meetings by combining routine business motions and then voting on them in one motion.



1999 – 2000     NAEA began the electronic dissemination of the E@lert newsletter in February 1, 2000.



2002 – 2003      Discussion and motions were made to establish NAEA’s Associate category of membership.

2004 – 2005     NAEA moved its headquarters from Gaithersburg, MD to downtown Washington, DC. This move was made to more effectively interact with Congress, the IRS and other agencies.

2005 – 2006      NAEA held a government relations event for the first time: a breakfast meeting with Congressman Jim Ramstad (R-MN), then chairman of the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee, and approximately 30 NAEA members.

NAEA’s Political Action Committee (PAC) was formed to demonstrate the association’s commitment to be a player in the areas of tax legislation and administration.

2008 – 2009     NAEA’s Affiliate’s Council was formed.

The online Special Enrollment Exam (SEE) prep program was introduced.

Then NAEA President Hatt appeared s on The Today Show alongside seven other enrolled agents in March of 2008 to answer tax related questions from viewers. Jean Chatzky, NBC News personal financial correspondent, reported on the work done by enrolled agents and why they are expert tax preparers.

2011 – 2012     The Schuldiner/Smollan Leadership Academy held its first sessions during Fall 2011.

The NAEA Board passed a motion to allow electronic devices to be used at the board table for NAEA purposes at all meetings.