Background: “Enrolled” means EAs are licensed by the federal government, while “Agent” allows appearance in place of the taxpayer before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Only EAs, attorneys and CPAs may represent taxpayers before the IRS. The EA profession started in 1884 when, after questionable claims had been presented for Civil War losses, Congress acted to regulate persons who represented citizens with the Treasury Department.
EAs were created by legislation signed into law by President Chester A. Arthur to handle these claims. At the time, some individuals with legitimate claims were cheated by their representatives in Washington while on other occasions; the government was being defrauded by false claims. EAs were the trusted individuals to represent petitioners in the US Court of Claims. Eventually their work expanded to focus on tax practice.
Professional Competency. The EA designation is awarded to individuals who successfully demonstrate expertise in the field of taxation by passing a tough enrollment test. EAs account for less than 10% of all individuals currently practicing in the field of taxation.
Continuing Education. EA is the only professional credential issued at the Federal level in taxation and requires considerable continuing professional education yearly.