How to Become an Enrolled Agent with the IRS

By Marissa Gorlick , last updated November 10, 2011

An enrolled agent with the IRS is someone that has been certified to represent taxpayers to the Internal Revenue Service. Enrolled agents are not restricted as to who they may represent, what type of IRS office they practice before, or what kind of tax matter they attend to.

To become certified as an enrolled agent, one may go about it in two different ways:

Written Examination

The examination measures your competence in comprehensive tax matters. The exam comes in three parts. The first part deals with preliminary work and tax payer data, income and assets, deductions and credits, taxation and advice, and specialized returns for individuals. The second part covers businesses, business financial information, and specialized returns and tax payers. The third and final part covers practices and procedures, representation before the IRS, specific types of representation, and completion of the filing process. Your score on the exam is based on the number of questions correctly answered, and then applied to a standardized scale of 40 to 130, with a passing score being 105. Once achieving a passing score, you then must apply for enrollment and pass a background check.

IRS Experience

If you have demonstrated competence through work experience within the IRS, you may apply for enrollment to the Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility. The applicable office will then supply the Director a report of the applicant’s work. To be considered for enrollment, the applicant must have served a minimum of 5 years consecutively in the IRS. If the applicant had severed his employment with the IRS at some point, then the application must be completed within 3 years of the separation. As with the written examination, once the application is accepted the applicant is then subject to a background check to guarantee that he has not engaged in any malfeasance that would compromise his ability to practice before the IRS.

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