Enrolled Agents: How They Can Help & How to Find an EA Near You

find enrolled agentIf you need assistance with tax issues, you may want to contact an enrolled agent. But finding an enrolled agent can be tricky. This guide explains how to find an enrolled agent near me. It also outlines what these professionals do and how they can help. 

What is an IRS Enrolled Agent?

An Enrolled Agent (EA) is a tax professional who represents taxpayers in matters relating to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax laws. An EA is licensed to represent taxpayers before the IRS on disputes, they can prepare tax returns, and they can answer questions regarding tax laws. This designation is comparable to an accountant or an attorney that specializes in IRS matters relating to tax laws.  However, unlike an attorney or CPA, they receive their authority from the federal government instead of state governments. The IRS Enrolled agent can choose to represent any taxpayer and may specialize in certain areas of tax law that they practice. The benefit of working with an enrolled agent is that they specialize in dealing with the IRS.

Typically the enrolled agent acts as a legal representative for the taxpayer in issues that relate to IRS tax matters. The enrolled agent must pass the three parts of the Special Enrollment Exam (unless they qualify from having years of experience working for the IRS) which certifies that the agent has proven competence in the areas of tax law. Moreover, enrolled agents must complete 72 hours of continuing education every three years to maintain their status.

 

What Do Enrolled Agents Do?

Like other tax professionals, Enrolled Agents perform a variety of tasks. Some of them focus on helping clients with unpaid taxes. Others perform the following types of services as well:

  • Bookkeeping
  • Financial planning
  • Help with tax audits
  • Business tax preparation
  • Individual tax preparation
  • IRS representation

Circular 230, published by the US Treasury Department outlines the rules for enrolled agents to practice in front of the IRS. Enrolled agents have unlimited practice rights in front of the IRS, except in Tax Court. 

Generally, only tax lawyers can represent people in Tax Court, but if an enrolled agent passes the Tax Court exam, they can also represent clients in court. Only a very, very small number of enrolled agents have this credential. 

Enrolled agents can handle tax prep, unfiled returns, tax audits, tax appeals, and other tax-related issues for the following types of taxpayers:

  • Corporations
  • Estates, gifts, and trusts
  • Exempt organizations
  • Farms and ranches
  • Individuals
  • Partnerships
  • All other taxpayers

Taxpayers with unique tax concerns can turn to enrolled agents for help. Here are some of the issues they can help with:

  • Taxes for people in the military
  • Taxes during and after divorce
  • Tax concerns about pensions, annuities, and IRAs
  • Multi-state taxation
  • International taxation
  • Taxation for expatriates

Enrolled agents deal with individual and corporate income tax, but they also deal with employment tax, sales tax, and other local, state, and federal taxes. When looking for an enrolled agent near me, you should look for an enrolled agent with experience in your state, who specializes in your area of concern. 

At TaxCure, we have a directory of enrolled agents, and our site makes it easy to search for an enrolled agent near me

Should I Find an Enrolled Agent Near Me to Help File My Taxes?

It depends on your tax situation and your comfort level. If you have a very simple tax situation, you can often file your own return using tax software. As your taxes get more complicated, such as itemizing deductions, earning investment income, or starting a business, you may want to reach out for help. 

Most big tax prep companies hire tax preparers who do not have professional credentials. These people receive a small amount of training, and while they can help with some tax issues, they simply don't have the knowledge or expertise of an enrolled agent or a CPA.

If you want to work with someone who has the highest IRS credentials, you should work with an enrolled agent or a CPA. Note that you can select these professionals when you work with a big tax prep company such as H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt, or Turbotax, but they are not the default option. If you want to work with an enrolled agent near me at one of these companies, you need to request that type of professional specifically. 

When to Work With an Enrolled Agent

Here are some situations where you may want to work with an enrolled agent near you:

  • You own a small business or are newly self-employed. — An enrolled agent can help optimize your business deductions and guide you through tax planning. 
  • You've had major life changes. — If you've just bought or sold a house, cashed out a major investment, received an inheritance, gotten a divorce, or adopted a child, an enrolled agent can ensure you handle your taxes correctly. Even if you just work with them for a year, their efforts can make a difference. 
  • Your taxes are complicated. — Whether you're trading crypto or trying to claim deductions for home upgrades to support a disabled family member, you may need extra support during complicated years. This is the perfect time to find an enrolled agent. 
  • You made a mistake on a return and need resolution services. — Don't worry. This happens to a lot of people, and an enrolled agent can help you deal with the IRS or state tax agencies.
  • You can't pay your taxes or are facing collection actions — If you are facing a situation where you can't pay your taxes or the IRS is taking collection actions against you, enrolled agents can represent you before the IRS and help you get back into compliance.

Essentially, if you want extra help dealing with the IRS or state tax agencies, you should contact an enrolled agent. 

Various Tax Problems an Enrolled Agent Can Help With

Tax laws and the regulations issued by the IRS can be overwhelming. An enrolled agent can assist the taxpayer with understanding the inner workings of the law and know the best strategy to deal with the unique circumstances for their tax-related issues. An enrolled agent understands Federal tax law, IRS regulations, and specific situations that relate to taxpayers and, most importantly, how to obtain the best, most cost-effective outcome for the taxpayer.

If any of the following circumstances apply to you, an enrolled agent is one type of tax professional that can provide needed relief.

  • Tax Audit: Tax audits happen rarely, but when they do, an enrolled agent can help.  An enrolled agent can help you navigate the process and provide support along the way.
  • IRS investigation: Being investigated by the IRS is a very critical matter. Depending on your situation, an IRS enrolled agent who knows the IRS laws inside and out can offer a level of consult to you and coach you through an investigation. Furthermore, a tax attorney can help if the investigation becomes criminal.
  • Tax Fraud:  If you have committed tax fraud such as underreporting income, claiming false or deductions or claimed credits that you did not earn, this could be considered tax fraud.  A tax attorney or an IRS enrolled agent can help you to navigate through the process of the investigation.
  • Failure to file and failure to pay tax penalties:  Failing to file tax returns, or not paying taxes owed eventually results in tax penalties that can become expensive depending on the amount of time that has passed.  An IRS Enrolled Agent can work in your favor to reduce significantly the tax penalties and costs associated with the consequences of failing to file taxes under IRS regulations.
  • Unfiled tax returns: Having unfiled tax returns can lead to steep penalties and interest from the IRS. An enrolled agent can help you file old taxes and ensure that you get the maximum amount of deductions as well as helping you work through any penalties and interest that you may incur.
  • Tax Liens: If you have had a tax lien filed against you, it is a good idea to seek the help of a tax professional. An enrolled agent is one type of tax professional that can analyze your situation and find the best course of action to get the tax lien removed and prevent the IRS from taking any further collection actions.
  • Tax Levies: A tax levy is a serious matter, and the IRS will continue to seize assets until they have taken enough to cover all the taxes owed plus penalties and interest. An enrolled agent is aware of the many different ways tax levies can be stopped. It is a good idea to seek help from a tax professional when faced with this situation.

FAQs About Enrolled Agents

Here are some frequently asked questions about enrolled agents. Contact us directly or in the chatbox if you have additional questions about enrolled agents. 

How Much Do Enrolled Agents Charge?

Enrolled agents often charge a fee based on the project, but if they charge an hourly rate, it tends to range from $200 to $400. Some enrolled agents charge less than this range, while others charge more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for an enrolled agent is $54,890. 

How Do I Find a Good Enrolled Agent?

Talk with people you know. Read reviews of local enrolled agents. Use a site such as TaxCure to search for enrolled agents in your area, read reviews, and find the best tax pro for your needs. You can follow this link here to see the enrolled agents closest to you and you can further filter by your particular tax situation to find the best suited enrolled agent to help you.

Is an Enrolled Agent Better Than a CPA?

No. CPAs and enrolled agents can both provide help with tax-related issues. The important thing is to find a CPA or enrolled agent with experience in your area of concern. 

Is an Enrolled Agent Worth the Cost?

Yes. When you're dealing with complicated tax matters, unaffordable tax bills, or a dispute with the IRS, an enrolled agent can be invaluable. They know the tax codes and how to negotiate with the IRS and state tax agencies. They save their clients time and money in the long run.

Resolution to Tax Issues

An enrolled agent can offer sound advice about many of the solutions to tax issues provided by the IRS. The complexity of the solutions provided by the IRS to deal with tax problems are something that an enrolled agent is highly trained to negotiate.

The following are examples of some of the resolutions that an IRS enrolled agent can negotiate on your behalf.

The IRS enrolled agent or tax attorney may focus on resolving tax problems and be well versed in the regulations and workings of the IRS. Because the enrolled agent has passed both competency and certification to practice, taxpayers have peace of mind knowing that they are not risking getting “scammed” by the many self-proclaimed tax relief companies that advertise their services over the internet. If you are interested in the help of an enrolled agent, you can start your search below. Once you start the search, you will be given the ability to show only enrolled agents that match your search results. Our algorithm will show local professionals that have experience dealing with your unique situation.

History of the Enrolled Agent

When the IRS was formed in 1862, anyone could represent taxpayers in front of the IRS. After the Civil War ended in 1865, dubious representatives found clients and offered to represent them in exchange for a percentage of their claims. 

These representatives claimed that their clients had suffered expensive losses during the war, but in most cases, they overstated the value of the losses. In particular, they trumped up the value of lost horses. 

This debacle convinced the IRS that it needed to define parameters around representing taxpayers in front of the IRS. In 1884, The Enabling Act, also called the Horse Act, was signed into law. This act created enrolled agents, and it established a standard people needed to meet to become one of these professionals. 

Enrolled Agent Versus CPA

Enrolled agents and CPAs overlap in many ways, and both of these professionals can represent you in front of the IRS. However, there are a few differences between enrolled agents and CPAs.

CPAs are licensed in their state, while enrolled agents are licensed federally. To become an enrolled agent, you need to pass a three-part exam or work at the IRS for at least five years. CPAs typically must earn a bachelor's degree plus 30 additional credits in accounting. Then, they must log a year's work experience under another accountant and pass the CPA licensure exam for their state. 

The main difference between enrolled agents and CPAs is their area of focus. Enrolled agents are 100% focused on tax-related issues. CPAs can focus on taxes, but they can also do public accounting, corporate accounting, and accounting for government and not-for-profit organizations. CPAs also audit businesses and provide assurance that their financial statements are free from material misstatement. 

Both enrolled agents and CPAs must complete continuing education credits every year. This ensures they stay abreast of changes to the industry and the tax laws. 

What Is The National Association of Enrolled Agents?

For over 50 years, the National Association of Enrolled Agents has provided support to enrolled agents. The NAEA has over 10,000 members, and it invites organizations to become strategic partners. 

The NAEA publishes information online and in the EA Journal on how to become an enrolled agent. The organization also provides professional support to these people. When asked about the benefits of NAEA membership, enrolled agents say the organization provides invaluable help and resources to get them through tax season. 

The NAEA also works to support the industry as a whole. And the organization fights against laws that may stymy the work of these professionals.

The NAEA Education Foundation (NAEA-EF) has existed since 1972. It helps people who want to become enrolled agents and even offers scholarships to aspiring candidates as they study for their Special Enrollment Examination (SEE). Additionally, it helps existing agents maintain their status. 

 

How to Find an Enrolled Agent Near Me

If you're looking for an enrolled agent near me, you can simply contact the local agents who appear in a web search. Alternatively, you can ask other local taxpayers or business owners if they have worked with an enrolled agent in your area. The NAEA also offers a database of enrolled agents. 

One of the most effective options is to search for an enrolled agent near me on TaxCure. At TaxCure, we have a directory of enrolled agents and other tax professionals from around the country. You can easily search for an enrolled agent who has experience with your tax concern in your area. You can also read more about the enrolled agent and look at reviews. TaxCure allows taxpayers to find the tax professionals that have the most experience with resolving their particular tax problems.

Don't wait. Get help with your tax concerns now. Contact an enrolled agent near you today.

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