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FAQ

How do you prepare for the Enroll Agent Exam?
You should acquire a good EA review program like Fast Forward Academy orGleim. I have used Fast Forward Academy and it is pretty good and it helps meto pass all 3 parts on my first attempt.You want to create a studying schedule and stick with it by all means.Otherwise you may drag the process on indefinitely.When studying for the exam it is best to have someone to study with you sothat you can discuss the topics together and keep yourself focus. It is harderto do when you study by yourself. The materials are not very fun to read.Please make sure you really understand the materials and not just doing thepractic questions over and over again. My suggestion is to explain eachconcept back to yourself or to the other person and think about some examples.When taking the practice test or studying questions it is important tounderstand why the wrong answers are wrong and not just which answer iscorrect. Also you want to score as high as you can like 90 on all of yourpractices before considering taking the actual exam.
Should I hire a CPA or an EA to do my personal or business taxes? What are thepros and cons of hiring a Certified Public Accountant versus an EnrolledAgent?
First of all thanks for the ask Disclosure I am getting my MS in AccountingTax in May 2014 and I am working towards the EA credential. That said Illdo my best to make this fair and balanced. The short answer people will hate hearing this is It depends. When people talk about tax they really mean two things. Tax planningplanning transactions before they happen and tax compliance filling outforms applying for credits calculating etc. Im going to say this comesdown to four choices EA CPA tax attorney and noncredentialed accountant.First of all lets talk about the sort of thing each person is likely to helpyou with. Noncredentialed Accountant NCA for short Its a matter of WHY they are noncredentialed. Is it because they cant passthe exam Have they tried Can they do it Theres obviously a differencebetween NCAs who cant pass any of the exams NCAs who have passed the examsbut didnt bother getting a license and NCAs who used to practice moreactively but are now retired because they prefer to take life easier. Tax planning or tax compliance It depends. Most of a typical NCAs experiencewill probably be in tax compliance. What a NCA knows is pretty much dictatedby their experience and their personal drive to learn. NCAs can be very good. It takes guts or ignorance and a heck of a lot ofperseverance to go out there and make it without any sort of credential.Theyve either proven they can do it and dropped the credential after buildingup a client base or just sort of wandered into the profession after years ofexperience. Or they could just be NCAs because they cant pass the exams. You cantreally tell unless you ask but can you trust the answers Certified Public Accountant CPA What is a CPA anyway Why have certified public accountants Arent yourequired to be a CPA to be an accountant anyway Well no. The only real difference for a client practically speakingbesides the ethics stuff between a CPA and an NCA is that a CPA can legallysign off on audits. CPAs are valued for being an impartial attesting party.What is the difference between an audit and an attestation Also the fourparts of the CPA exam are REG regulations AUD audit attest FARfinancial accounting reporting and BEC business environment andconcepts. Less than 25 of what you need to know to be a CPA is tax. Just like lawyersspecialize accountants do too. That said the CPA credential has come to beshorthand for accountant. CPAs are permitted to practice before the IRS seeCircular 230. If your CPA is an auditattest kind of person Im notconvinced theyll know everything about tax since if you dont use it youlose it and the minutae of tax regulations changes every year. However ifyour CPA is a tax specialist youre probably okay. What kind of taxspecialist are they Personal tax Small biz State and local SalesbusinessInternational Corporate MA specialist Everything While were here let me point out that after you get a credential you haveto get continuing professional education CPE to maintain said credential.CPAs need 120 hours every three years but that 120 hours can be in prettymuch anything. Though they do need to do 2 hours of ethics every year. MostCPAs will probably do a tax updates CPE course but its not required. A CPAcan choose to do zero tax and be just fine. If you are in the habit of getting your bookkeeping done by a CPA they offera tax service and they seem knowledgeable it probably wont hurt to have theCPA do your taxes. They know all your financials anyway and its easier tojust have it all done by the same person. For complicated outofthenormthings though it might be better to tread with caution. A CPA who does smallbusiness is probably good at things like personal taxes and small business taxcompliance. Any more than that and it depends on how uptodate they are intheir CPE. Tax AttorneyLawyer I use these words as synonyms Right off the bat if the person is not a tax lawyer why are you talking tothem about taxes Better to just ask Uncle George or Aunt Gina. Tax attorneys are trained in the planning of taxationtransactions and in thelegal side of things. A tax attorney is usually necessary for large complextransactions usually in MAs consolidation business structure etc. The taxattorney is also the one who is most likely to be able to represent you incourt should the need arise. CPAs and EAs cant go to District Court or theCourt of Federal Claims and they will need to pass a special exam torepresent you in Tax Court. Where tax lawyers MAY fall short is in the accounting side of things. A taxlawyer may not know GAAP generally accepted accounting principles becausethey arent required to know any of it. In large engagements its normal tohave both accountants and lawyers. The lawyers figure the highlevel do itthis way make X a C corp Y a partnership heres the best way to figure theMA details etc. The accountants are the ones who handle the numbers andactually work out the sums. When it comes to things like legal reasoning etcits hard to beat a tax lawyer. When do you most need legal reasoning for taxes Well first of all if yourein trouble with the IRS or if you want to challenge something and you wantyour day in court the lawyer is going to have the most training in courtprocedure and tax law. The other place where legal reasoning is crucialEstates and trust. Tax lawyers by the way are usually far more expensive than any NCA CPA orEA. Hiring them to do your personal taxes on a regular basis may be overkillon your wallet. If thats what you want however hey its your money. Enrolled Agent EA NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH ENROLLED ACTUARY What is an EA anyway For a lot of people theyll only just have begun tohear this term and will think its a new credential. Actually the EA isAmericas earliest tax credential. Wiki has the details Enrolled agent Like a CPA an EA has to pass a set of exams and do CPE to maintain theirlicense. However there are three main differences The EA exam is 100 taxes. The EA Exam is the Special Enrollment Exam SEE. Part 1 deals with individuals Part 2 with businesses and Part 3 with rules and regulations the entirety of Circular 230. You can check the syllabus if you want IRS Special Enrollment Examination EA CPE must be taxrelated with the exception of 2 hours a year in ethics. 72 hours every 3 years which works out to 24 hours a year. Most EAs are part of the NAEA National Association of Enrolled Agents which mandates 30 hours of CPE per calendar year. All of it in tax okay yes less 2 hours of ethics. EAs arent required to know GAAP. Many do anyway because the obvious synergy between bookkeeping and taxes is really hard to ignore. An EA doing business on their own usually has some sort of bookkeeping license or experience. EAs are trained in tax compliance it is the beall and endall of theirexistence. That said there are EAs who specialize in things such as offerincompromise OIC. Many EAs are former IRS agents you can get an EA licensewithout taking the exam after working 5 years in the IRS. So which do I choose Its hard to say without knowing what you want your taxperson to do. Weregoing to assume that all four are equally competent and ethical. If you wantsomeone to file your taxes then the EA or NCA is going to be more costefficient. Tax software or doing your own taxes is the MOST costefficientbut if youre looking for a taxperson you have already decided you wantsomeone else to do it. If you want to think about a more complicated scenario then it starts gettinga little murky. Estate planning and need to figure out the most taxefficientway to pass your millions on to the next generation Were literally talkingmillions because the lifetime exemption for giftsestate tax is 5.34 millionin 2014 and it goes up every year. Incorporating a partnership Dissolving abusiness What are your needs It may be that youll need certain help thatisnt just about tax... or maybe all you need is a sounding board. EA vs CPA A Note Some EAs are accountants who decided to take the EA exam instead of the CPAexam because they arent interested in auditattest work. These accountantsare usually comparable to a CPA in terms of knowledge. In fact within the BigFour the EA is an acceptable substitute for the CPA within the tax branchesof the firms. For all that though EAs are looked down upon because the requirements toactually sit for the exam are... zero. If you think you want to take the SEEgo for it all you need is to be 18 years old If you want to take the CPAexam you have to fulfill a set of requirements related to your education andin some cases experience that varies depending on which state you aregetting licensed in. For example I will have an MS in Accounting and will have well over 150 hoursof college and graduate education by the time I graduate. My graduate GPA isalmost 4.0. However I am ineligible to sit for the CPA exam because thespecific courses I took in college dont match up to Colorados CPArequirements. I could go to a different state and take the exam there instead for exampleWA but I live and work in CO and I dont have any interest in auditattestwork so I decided to get the EA license instead. If I want to make partner ina firm Ill ultimately have to get the CPA license down the road legalrequirements having to do with firm formationpartner qualifications andclients respond better to someone with CPA behind their name. Last Words The credential of the accountant doesnt necessarily matter but its a goodshorthand for their experienceeducationbackgroundtraining. Ultimatelychoosing a good accountant is like choosing a doctorlawyerdentistany otherprofessional. Get to know them and what they specialize in or like to do. Makeyour choice from there Above all find a financial professional you can trustand rely on. Theyre going to know a LOT about some very private details ofyour life. Pick an accountant the way youd pick a spouse think carefullythrow away arbitrary requirements and go with what works best for YOU.
What books and experiences are best for someone trying to pass the exams to bean Enrolled Agent?
I liked Enrolled Agent Exam Prep personally. The link to Fast Forward Academyshould serve you well. Either way Good Luck study study study and know yourstuff.
What is the future of an Enrolled Agent in India?
The role of an Enrolled agent is usually to deal with any and every kind oftaxation affairs. They also hold the privilege of representing the taxpayerson behalf of the IRS. As of now an Enrolled Agent career prospects are onlyif you wish to work and stay in US. Unfortunately as of now there are no muchfuture prospects in India unless working for a outsource corporateIf one wishes to study or pursue EA for education purposes can do so byjoining Concorde Academics. This class is based out of Mumbai India. ConcordeAcademics has prepared extensive study material with the help of experts whoalso help in training and coaching. Concorde Academics will assist you toenable a brighter future abroad.
How long does it take for IRS to approve form 23 for Enrolled Agent?
it took 57 days from when i submitted until i received the notification. theyhave to verify you passed do the background check and verify that you arecurrent with your tax filings.CONGRATULATIONS AND WELCOME TO THE FAMILY
What can enrolled agents do?
An enrolled agent EA can represent taxpayers before all administrativelevels—examination collection and appeals—of the Internal Revenue Service.In addition to taxpayer representation enrolled agents often provide taxconsultation services and prepare a wide range of federal and state taxreturns.IRS Agents automatically become Enrolled Agents after 5 years of workinvolving interpreting tax rules and laws.Most Enrolled Agents work for the IRS work as self employed tax preparers orwork for tax preparation firms or CPA firms.You become an Enrolled Agent by passing a test and maintaining continuededucation in taxation if you are not an IRS employee.
Should I take the exams to become an EA (Enrolled Agent) while I am already aCPA?
If you havent read all the other answers you should. They all provide aslightly different interpretation.I think it is sound logic to agree with everyone that the accreditation is oflittle practical value. Both CPAs and EAs can do bad work.What makes for a qualified tax preparer Intelligence experience dedication.Often rare to find in a field that is subject to low pay program basedintelligence who actually files a tax return on paper with a pencil highclient turnover and little ability to differentiate yourself from the alsorans.But more letter after your name can be a distinction. While many uniformedpotential clients dont know the difference between a EA CPA or CPU it maybe enough competitively to make the “More is better” argument. I have fiveletter and that other person only has three or two. It works at leastoccasionally.But the entire gist of this conversation is in the wrong direction. Thequestion that matters the one that should be asked and always striven forisHow can I increase my skills knowledge and experience to better serve myclients and do it to a level that others can see is valuableThat is the important question. How do you make a real difference I believeeveryone that has posted would agree the acronym after your name cant makethat difference.