Becoming an Enrolled Agent: 6 Reasons Why You Should Become an EA

When you’re looking to hire a tax professional, you want someone knowledgeable — someone you can trust to get the job done and keep your personal information secure. CPAs help clients set and achieve financial goals through money management and financial planning. These goals could include anything from putting a down payment for a home to opening a new branch of business across the country.

  • Due to the fact that this type of work can be quite complex, the job of an EA is often in high demand.
  • Passing the exam is much easier once you have several years of tax experience.
  • Working with an adviser may come with potential downsides such as payment of fees (which will reduce returns).
  • This exam covers auditing and attestation, business environment and concepts, financial accounting and reporting, and regulation.

Don’t forget that in order to maintain licensure, you will have to take ongoing continuing education (CE) courses. CE requirements are determined at the state levels and are cyclical (e.g. 120 hours in 3 years.) Your employer enrolled agent vs cpa salary may or may not bear the cost of CPE or licensure. So, if you are in a state that requires two years of work experience and you also take advantage of the entire 18-month window for testing, you’re looking at 8 ½ years.

Which license fits your career growth – An Enrolled Agent (EA) or a CPA?

Before we compare salaries, we should note that EAs and CPAs don’t necessarily perform the same job. Assuming you don’t already have an accounting or law degree, however, I’d highly encourage you to register for the Special Enrollment Exam (SEE). Ken has gained a wealth of business experience through his previous employment as a CPA, Auditor, Tax Preparer and College Professor. Today, Ken continues to use those finely tuned skills to educate students as a professional writer and teacher. I am the author of How to Pass The CPA Exam (published by Wiley) and the publisher of this and several accounting professional exam prep sites.

enrolled agent vs cpa salary

EA candidates have to pass a background check, which is conducted by the IRS. Ethics are a big deal for EAs, so you need to have proof of ethical tax history. It’s important to note that in the case of representing a client before the IRS, a CPA also has the privileges that an EA has. Additionally, both tax professionals may represent tax clients before any type of IRS office. Lastly, EAs and CPAs are required to meet specific ethical and continuing education requirements. EAs could help you work through an IRS audit or a collection problem, and they can also perform bookkeeping services that could be useful for businesses when preparing tax returns.

How Do EAs and CPAs Differ?

To become a CPA a person must take 150 hours of public accounting courses, typically done at a college or university. No matter which career path you decide to take, you’ll be an elite professional in the field of accounting. Weighing every factor, such as salary, lifestyle, and adherence to your personal values will help you make the right choice for a career that provides both comfort and fulfillment. This means EAs can represent any taxpayer, whether they prepared their income tax return or not. They can also represent any tax matter, as well as appeal to any office of the IRS.

enrolled agent vs cpa salary

Both certified public accountants and enrolled agents are authorized to represent taxpayers before the IRS. Either one of these accounting professionals can prepare complex tax returns, work on collection matters and handle tax appeals for their clients or employers. The similarity in pay has a lot to do with the education and licensing necessary to become either a CPA or an enrolled agent. CPAs, for example, must first earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field before they’re able to sit for the four-part certified public accountant examination. Enrolled agents also need a bachelor’s degree, but the course of study can be accounting, economics or a related field. From there, they must obtain their preparer tax identification number, pass the three-part special enrollment examination and then pass the tax compliance check.

Pass the Exam

There are no guarantees that working with an adviser will yield positive returns. The existence of a fiduciary duty does not prevent the rise of potential conflicts of interest. In fact, the IRS says they are uncontested experts on such topics. Surgent offers study materials for both the CPA Exam and the EA Exam to get you on your way to licensure and your new career. Remember that salary is one of many tradeoffs between different careers.

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