Well, the answer to "What is an Enrolled Agent?" is written below. The answers to the remainder of the questions are: No, I don't carry a weapon, unless you consider my two dogs and my wood shop tools weapons. No, I don't work for the government... Any more. I have been out of the nuclear navy since 2005. No, I don't work for the IRS, and I'm not here to harass you. I do, however, work with the IRS to help resolve IRS problems for clients. In which case, we would have a Power of Attorney in place with the IRS, and then they would STOP harassing YOU, and they'd be harassing me. If I'm harassing you, it's because I need something from you to meet deadlines with the IRS.. But, back on Topic....
What is an Enrolled Agent?
Enrolled agents (EAs) are federally-authorized tax practitioners who have demonstrated technical competence in tax law and are the only taxpayer representatives licensed to practice by the United States government. Only EAs, attorneys, and CPAs may represent taxpayers without limitation before the IRS. EAs advise and represent taxpayers who are being examined by IRS, taxpayers who are unable to pay, and taxpayers who wish to avoid or recover penalties. EAs prepare tax returns for individuals, partnerships, corporations, estates, trusts and any other entities with tax-reporting requirements. Unlike attorneys and CPAs, who may or may not choose to specialize in taxes, all EAs specialize in taxation and are required by the federal government to maintain their professional skills with continuing professional education. Typically, EAs are required to maintain 72 hours of education every 3 years (or 24 hours per year) to maintain our license. As a member of the National Association of Enrolled Agents, our requirements are even higher. We are required to maintain 30 hours per year of continuing education credits.
History of Enrolled Agents
After the Civil War, many citizens had problems settling claims with the government for horses and other property confiscated for use in the war effort. After many petitions and much pleading, Congress, in 1884, endowed enrolled agents with the power of advocacy to prepare claims against the government and to seek equitable justice for the citizenry. For many years, the purpose of the enrolled agent was to act in this capacity.
In 1913, when the income tax was passed, the job of the enrolled agent was expanded to include claims for monetary relief for citizens whose taxes had become inequitable. As the income tax, estate, gift and other sources of tax collections became more complex, the role of the enrolled agent increased to include the preparation of the many tax forms that were required. Additionally, as audits became more prevalent, their role evolved into taxpayer advocacy and negotiating with the Internal Revenue Service on behalf of their clients.
In 1972, EAs united to form a national association to represent the needs and interests of EAs and the rights of taxpayers. That association is today called the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA). Through their national association and state affiliates, enrolled agents have successfully defended their rights to practice and furthered the passage of legislation and administrative rules that benefit both tax practitioners and ordinary citizens.