Enrolled Agent (EA)

Most people have to deal with the submission of tax returns and often many of those people have problems dealing with the IRS. To avoid any problems some people look to hire professional accountants to complete their tax returns for them and when they do, often they will think they have to seek the assistance of a CPA (Certified Public Accountant). Although they of course could, there is another option and that is to hire an EA (Enrolled Agent).

In the United States and in some other countries like Singapore, EAs exist in order to specifically assist people with their tax returns and are recognized, in the US at least, by the IRS as being proficient and accurate. Hiring one of these specialist accountants will certainly help you to avoid problems with the IRS and may cost you less than hiring a CPA.

EAs in the United States are empowered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury specifically to help tax payers with their tax returns and so as such are much respected and trusted by the IRS. To become an EA you do of course have to pass an enrolled agent course but even in order to sit the exam, someone must meet certain criteria such as having several years’ experience in some kind of taxation department and even after having qualified and passed the exam, a candidate must still undergo a certain number of hours formal training each year in order to keep their agent status.

As with other certifications in the area of accounting, such as CPA, CMA, CFA or others, the cost of the courses and exams can be expensive but, as with the other courses, the expense is often deemed worth it provided the applicant passes. None of these exams are particularly easy and so anyone considering studying for one must be prepared to face many hours of studying if they want to have any chance of passing. The pass rate for the CFA exam for instance is only 20% whilst the CPA and CMA pass rates are slightly higher at 50%.

One advantage perhaps with successfully becoming an EA is that everybody or at least nearly everybody needs to fill in their tax details and most of those people that do, need professional assistance and so work should not be hard to find if the opportunities are approached correctly.

As with some of the other accounting certifications, the Enrollment course is divided into 3 levels and the level I will require a 6 week course, level II an 8 week course with the third level being a 4 week course, all levels of course have to be passed before anyone can move on to the next level. Each part of the course has its own cost with part one costing $295, part 2 costing $395 and part 3 costing $215 for a total cost in all of $745. Although the courses can be taken at certain times of the year, at least they are available 24/7 for convenience to students.