How to Become an Enrolled Agent

By Mallory O'Sullivan
Apr 23, 2018
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If you're ready to take the step in your career as a tax professional, you may be interested in becoming an Enrolled Agent (EA)! Enrolled Agents hold the highest credential awarded by the IRS, and it's a great way to boost your professional reputation. Enrolled Agents have unlimited practice rights, like attorneys and CPAs. They are unrestricted in terms of representing taxpayers, types of tax matters, and which IRS offices they can represent clients before.

What Is an Enrolled Agent?

First, what precisely is an Enrolled Agent? Enrolled Agent is a professional designation awarded by the IRS and the highest designation the IRS awards. Enrolled Agents are able to represent taxpayers before the IRS, which undesignated tax preparers cannot do. Like attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs), Enrolled AGents have unlimited practice rights. In other words, Enrolled Agents can represent any taxpayer before the IRS in any tax matter in any IRS office.

To learn more about the specifics of the Enrolled Agent designation and more about the IRS' practice and representation regulatiions, see "Regulations Governing Practice before the Internal Revenue Service" (Treasury Department Circular No. 230).

Steps to Becoming an Enrolled Agent

Step 1. Obtain a Personal Tax Identification Number (PTIN)

Your first step towards becoming an Enrolled Agent is to obtain a Personal Tax Identification Number (PTIN). All tax preparers who complete taxes for profit are required to have an active PTIN. If you do not currently have one, you can register for your PTIN on the IRS website. For more information about PTIN requirements, check out the PTIN FAQs from the IRS.

Step 2. Study for the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE)

The Special Enrollment Examination is the exam required to become an Enrolled Agent. The IRS SEE is a three-part, comprehensive test that covers all aspects of federal taxation. The exam consists of more than 250 questions and will require significant preparation and study.

The IRS Special Enrollment Examination is divided into three parts. The three parts of the SEE are:

  • Part 1 – Individuals
  • Part 2 – Businesses
  • Part 3 – Representation, Practices and Procedures

You can take the three parts of the Special Enrollment Examination in any order.

Step 3. Register for the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE)

You can register to take the IRS Special Enrollment Examination from the Prometric website. Before scheduling your exam, review the Enrolled Agent Special Enrollment Examination Candidate Information Bulletin so you are more familiar with the process for becoming an Enrolled Agent.

Step 4. Take the IRS Special Enrollment Examination (SEE)

You can take the three parts of the SEE in any order you wish. Be sure to review important test day information from Prometric to ensure you have all the necessary documents and supplies to take your exam.

Step 5. Apply for Enrollment & Pass Tax Compliance Check

Once you've passed the IRS Special Enrollment Examination (SEE), congratulations! You will now need to apply for Enrollment. You can apply for enrollment online or complete Form 23 and submit it via mail with your payment. After you submit your Form 23, a tax compliance check will be conducted.

Step 6. Update Your Personal Information

Add your new credential to your email signature, LinkedIn profile and business cards! By this point, you have worked hard and proven your expertise in the tax industry. Let current and future clients know that you are highly qualified to represent them as an Enrolled Agent.

Step 7. Maintain Your Enrolled Agent (EA) Designation

Once you've become an Enrolled Agent, your next task will be to maintain your EA designation. The IRS requires Enrolled Agents to complete 72 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) credit every three years. Enrolled Agents must complete their CPE course credit from an IRS-approved Enrolled Agent CPE provider — like WebCE!

Enrolled Agent Professional Development

WebCE is here to support tax professionals in their professional development, no matter where you are in your career! That includes the leading Enrolled Agent and tax preparer CPE courses. Each of our tax preparer and Enrolled Agent CPE courses are designed by industry experts. All of our Enrolled Agent CPE courses are approved by the IRS to fulfill the IRS Enrolled Agent CPE requirements, and our courses are continuously updated to include the most up-to-date tax laws and publications.

To learn more, you can use the button below to visit our Enrolled Agent CPE page and the WebCE Catalog!

Enrolled Agent CPE   WebCE Catalog