Patti & Richard Logan
Enrolled Agents

The Tax Group

What Is An EA

If you are like most Americans, you pay taxes...but may not have heard of  Enrolled Agents, the professionals tax experts who assist taxpayers with tax planning, preparation and representation.

With tax regulations becoming more convoluted  and confusing each time they are "simplified," and with the enormous changes in tax law, this is a good time to review your tax situations, and there' is nobody better than an Enrolled Agent - the taxpayer's tax expert - to help you!

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 United States Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before all administrative levels of the Internal Revenue Service for audits, collections and appeals.

What does the term "enrolled Agent" mean?  "Enrolled" means EAs are licensed to practice by the federal government.  "Agent" means EAS are authorized to appear in place of the taxpayer at the Internal Revenue Service.  Only EAs, attorneys and CPAs may represent taxpayers before the IRS.  The Enrolled Agent profession dates back to 1884 when, after questionable claims had been presented for Civil War Losses, Congress acted to regulate personas who represented citizens in their dealings with the Treasury Department.

How can an Enrolled Agent help me?    EAs advise, represent and prepare tax returns for individuals, partnerships, corporations, estate, trusts, and any entities with tax-reporting requirements.  EAs prepare millions of tax returns each year.  Enrolled Agents' expertise in the continually changing filed of taxation enables them to effectively represent taxpayers audited by the IRS.  Enrolled Agents are also known as the tax professional when dealing with  IRS Collection area. 

What are the differences between EAs and other tax professionals?  Only Enrolled Agents are required to demonstrate to the Internal Revenue Service their competence in matters of taxation before they may represent a taxpayer before the IRS.  Unlike attorneys and CPAs, who may or may not choose to specialize in taxes, all EAs specialize in taxation.  EAs are the only taxpayer representatives who receive their right to practice from the United States government.  (CPAs and attorneys are licensed by the states.)

Do I need an attorney?  In the vast majority of cases, an enrolled agent can help you in every area of the Internal Revenue Service.  There are a few instances when it is advisable to hire an attorney.  But, any attorney won't do.  Although any attorney can practice before the IRS, you would need one who is familar with the IRS, their rules, policies and procedures.  If your case needs an attorney, we, at The Tax Group, will tell you so.  We may be able to direct you to one who can handle your case.   Although each enrolled agent must decide where they are competent and comfortable practicing, it is the opinion of The Tax Group, that when faced with a criminal matter, it is in your best interest to contact a tax attorney rather than another type of tax professional. 

How does one become an Enrolled Agent?  The EA credential is earned in one of two ways:  An individual must pass a difficult examination which covers taxation of individuals, corporations, partnerships, estates and trusts, procedures and ethics.  Or alternatively, an individual may become an EA based on employment at the Internal revenue Service for a minimum of 5 years in a position where he or she regularly applied and interpreted the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code and its regulations.  All candidates are subjected to a rigorous background check conducted by the Internal Revenue Service.

Are EAs bound by any ethical standards?  EAs are required to abide by the provisions of U. S. Treasury Department Circular 230.  EAS found to be in violation of the provisions contained in Circular 230 may be suspended or disbarred.

Privilege and the Enrolled Agent - The IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 allows federally authorized practitioners (those bound by the previously mentioned Circular 230) a limited client privilege.  This privilege allows confidentiality between the taxpayer and the Enrolled Agents under certain conditions.  The privilege applies to situations in which the taxpayer is being represented in cases involving audits and collection matters.  It is not applicable to the preparation and filing of a tax return.  This privilege does not apply to state tax matters, although a number of states have an accountant-client privilege.

 

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