The biggest step to take before you become an Enrolled Agent is to pass the IRS Special Enrollment Examination (SEE), a comprehensive test given in three sections to make sure you possess the extensive tax knowledge required to be an Enrolled Agent. These agents are entrusted with the highest responsibility in the IRS, which is to represent taxpayers before the government. There are no other educational requirements for becoming an enrolled agent, but because the exam is extremely difficult and quite comprehensive, it helps to have a background in tax law or accounting.
Payment and Scheduling
If you decide to simply study for the exam, you must pass all three sections within two years of one another, because the SEE is updated every year to account for changes in the tax code. The window to take the exam is from May to the following February, and the months of March and April are the off-months in which the exam isn’t administered.
Each time you take the exam, you must pay the scheduling fee of $109, and you can repeat each section of the exam up to four times during a testing window. For example, if you take the Businesses section of the test four times in February, you can take it four more times in May of the same year, but you won’t be able to repeat the same section again until May of the next year.
Prerequisites for Taking the Special Enrollment Examination
Since Enrolled Agents are considered to be the most trustworthy tax specialists in the system, and because they are given authority to represent taxpayers at the national level, the IRS restricts this status to people with spotless tax records. In other words, if you have ever been audited or failed to file your tax return, the IRS probably won’t approve your application.
If you can show that you have always filed and paid your taxes on time, the first step to scheduling a test date is obtaining your Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). It can be difficult to get a PTIN if you have a criminal record, any past tax problems or unresolved financial problems; you will have to explain these issues on your application. The PTIN costs $64.25, and if your application looks good, you receive the ID number over the Internet.
Resources for Preparing for the Exam
When you get your PTIN, the next step is to begin studying for the SEE. The test is given in the following three sections: 1.) Individuals, 2.) Businesses and 3.) Representations, Practices and Procedures. The National Association of Enrolled Agents offers online and in-person courses to prepare for the SEE, and the IRS-affiliated website Prometric has a study booklet with information on getting ready and registering for the exam. The online class is extremely popular, and the exams cover all types of tax forms, codes and laws. You can take the sections in any order, and each section has a separate course you can take online from the NAEA.
Related Resource: CPA Exam
The tax codes can be very confusing to ordinary people who don’t have special expertise in tax law or accounting, but the IRS doesn’t make it complicated on purpose. To help people understand their choices, you can become an Enrolled Agent by getting your PTIN and passing all three sections of the SEE within two years of one another.