How To Earn EA Certification in 7 Steps

The IRS lists three steps to becoming an enrolled agent:
  1. Obtain a PTIN through the IRS.
  2. Schedule and pass the EA licensing exam. Candidates can then apply for enrollment through the IRS website.
  3. Undergo a background check. Background checks look at income tax history and any criminal background.

An Enrolled Agent (EA) is a tax expert who has earned the Internal Revenue Service’s highest certification, according to its definition. EAs, like CPAs and attorneys, are federally authorized to represent taxpayers before the IRS and have unrestricted representation rights. This means that EAs can represent any taxpayer, regardless of whether they prepare their returns. EAs can also represent any tax issue and file an appeal with any IRS office. The EA credential is recognized in all states, unlike the CPA credential, which is subject to state boards for licensing, continuing education, and other compliance issues. An Enrolled Agent (EA) is a tax professional with federal accreditation who is allowed to represent taxpayers before the IRS. EAs have unrestricted authority to appear on behalf of any taxpayer in any tax matter before any IRS office.

Steps to Becoming an Enrolled Agent 2021

Benefits of earning an EA certification

The following are some of the most significant advantages of being a certified enrolled agent:

What is an EA certification?

You can become an enrolled agent with an EA certification, a tax expert who is permitted by the federal government to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service for a variety of tax issues, including appeals, audits, and collections. Enrolled agents assist both individuals and businesses in preparing their tax returns in addition to representing them before the IRS.

Enrolled agents are similar to attorneys in that they are permitted to represent any type of taxpayer for any type of tax-related matter and have unlimited practice rights in all 50 states. The IRS’s highest certification is the Enrolled Agent designation.

How to get an EA certification

Follow these steps to earn your EA certification:

1. Join the Chartered Tax Professional certificate program

You must first earn your chartered tax professional certification in order to be an enrolled agent. You can do that online by passing the five required courses, totaling 168 hours of study time. They are made to guide you through each step of tax preparation and typically take 18 months or less to finish. The program prepares participants for the enrolled agent exam in addition to teaching them the fundamentals of tax preparation because the two exams have questions on similar subjects.

The Chartered Tax Professional certificate program’s five courses are as follows:

2. Get a preparer tax identification number (PTIN)

Any expert who helps clients file their taxes needs to have a current PTIN. By first creating an online account on the IRS website, you can submit an application for one. Then, you must complete the online application by entering your social security number, personal information, business information (if applicable), information about your professional certifications, and information about your prior tax returns. Your preparer tax identification number is issued online by the IRS following submission of this data and payment of a $50 fee.

3. Start studying for the Special Enrolled Examination (SEE)

You must pass the IRS Enrolled Agent exam in order to become certified as an EA. It is divided into three parts and contains over 250 questions covering all facets of federal taxation and tax preparation.

It is not necessary to take these three exams in any particular order; you simply must complete them all within two years. This enables you to concentrate on each component separately and ensure that you have sufficient tax knowledge to pass them.

4. Register for the examination

You can register for the Special Enrolled Examination online. A Candidate Information Bulletin, a multi-page document that contains crucial details about the entire EA certification procedure, is given to each applicant. Even though registration is done online, there are numerous test centers available both domestically and abroad where you can take the exam. Exams usually take place between May and February.

5. Take the SEE exam

You can begin with any of the three components of the Special Enrollment Examination once you have registered and prepared. Each section has about 100 questions, the majority of which have three multiple-choice responses. There are three question formats:

The exam scores are determined by subtracting the total number of questions from the total number of correct answers for each part to arrive at a scale from 40 to 130. Immediately following the exam, the results are released, with passing candidates only being informed that they passed and failing candidates being informed of their exact score along with additional details that can help them get ready for a retest. Four attempts are permitted during the examination period, which runs from May to February each year, and each part costs $182.

6. Register with the IRS as an EA

You can apply to become an enrolled agent by completing an application on the PayScale website after passing the SEE exam successfully in two years. gov website and paying a fee of $67. Additionally, you must pass a suitability examination so that the IRS can confirm that you have filed all of your required tax returns and do not owe any unpaid taxes. Within 90 days of the registration date, successful candidates typically receive their enrolled agent certification.

7. Maintain your EA credential

You must complete at least 72 hours of continuing education every two years, with at least 16 hours per year, even after you become an enrolled agent. Two of these hours must be spent discussing the moral implications of the work.


How long does it take to become a EA?

Please give processing 60 days (90-120 days if you were an IRS employee in the past). The IRS will carry out a suitability check as part of assessing your enrollment application, which will include examining your personal tax compliance and criminal history.

How much does the EA exam cost?

Cost of the Enrolled Agent Exam Each component of the EA exam is $109. This cost must be paid when you make your exam appointments. You may reschedule your exam if necessary.

Is it hard to become an Enrolled Agent?

Enrolled Agent Exam Pass Rate: How Hard Is the Enrolled Agent Exam? Many people consider the Enrolled Agent exam to be less difficult than the CPA or CMA exams due to the average Enrolled Agent exam pass rate of 71%.

What is an EA certification?

Enrolled agent status is the highest credential the IRS awards. Those who attain this elite status are required to uphold moral principles and finish 72 hours of continuing education programs every three years. Enrolled agents have unrestricted practice rights, just like lawyers and certified public accountants (CPAs).

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