IRS Enrolled Agent (EA) – Why the EA is an Elite Tax Credential

IRS Enrolled Agent (EA) - Why the EA is an Elite Tax Credential (Golding & Golding)

IRS Enrolled Agent (EA) – Why the EA is an Elite Tax Credential (Golding & Golding)

We often get asked about what the Enrolled Agent (EA) credential is. Mainly, because it is not a well-known credential, since it requires an applicant to have extensive tax knowledge that most people simply do not have.

Enrolled Agent (EA)

It is the highest credential awarded by the IRS and requires that an applicant pass a vigorous 3-part comprehensive tax exam.

*Some long-term IRS Employees with extensive tax knowledge may qualify to “waive into” the exam. We are proud of the fact that we have never worked for the IRS (and never will), and passed all 3 portions of the exam on the first attempt.

As one of the few international tax law firms worldwide that has Attorneys who hold both a Master’s of Tax Law, along with the Enrolled Agent credential – we are very proud to have achieved the EA credential by passing the exam 

Enrolled Agent vs. Tax Attorney

These two credentials should not really be compared, as they are two very different credentials. At Golding & Golding, our lead attorney, Mr. Sean M. Golding, is both an enrolled agent and a tax attorney. So what does that mean?

Enrolled Agent – Nationwide & International Practice

For individuals who are tax attorneys, they typically practiced tax law in the state in which they are licensed. If they are licensed by the Tax Court, they can also practice before tax authorities in all 50 states.

But, merely being a tax attorney does not entitle an individual to represent taxpayers before the IRS in states outside of any state they’re licensed to practice law in. 

This is a very important benefit of the EA credential.

What Does the IRS Say about the EA Credential?

As provided by the IRSAn enrolled agent is a person who has earned the privilege of representing taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service by either passing a three-part comprehensive IRS test covering individual and business tax returns, or through experience as a former IRS employee.


Enrolled agent status is the highest credential the IRS awards. Individuals who obtain this elite status must adhere to ethical standards and complete 72 hours of continuing education courses every three years.

An Example of How an EA is Beneficial

For example, an attorney is licensed in California. A client is in New Jersey and gets audited by the IRS in New Jersey. If the attorney is going to go to New Jersey to represent the client in the IRS audit (not tax court), the attorney will have to have one of the following credentials:

  1. An Enrolled Agent
  2. An license to practice law in New Jersey, or
  3. Tax practitioner licensed in New Jersey.

Enrolled Agent vs. CPA

There are plenty of CPAs who are very experienced in tax law. But, just because a person is a CPA does not mean they have any tax experience. There are many CPAs who focus exclusively on accounting or auditing (business auditing not tax auditing).  

Alternatively, an enrolled agent does not necessarily have an accounting background. Rather, as an enrolled agent, they have a solid tax background.

IRS Audit

When a person is being audited before the Internal Revenue Service for tax-related issues, it is important to have an enrolled agent or tax attorney representing you on those issues.

It may also be beneficial to have a CPA representing the person in an audit, but overall, enrolled agent is usually preferred in an audit situation.

Further Specializing

Beyond learning the enrolled agent credential, many IRS tax practitioners will also develop a further specialty in an area of law. For example, at Golding & Golding, we focus our entire tax practice on international tax law and specifically IRS offshore voluntary disclosure.

Other enrolled agents may focus on issues such as business tax, tax compliance, corporate tax, etc..

Experts….Probably Not

The IRS likes to use specific terms when designating individuals a job title or credential. For example, someone may be titled as a Tax Specialist (an entry-level position) working at the IRS but did not achieve the enrolled agent credential. Moreover, an IRS Examiner position does not require more than a Bachelor’s Degree.

Likewise, while the enrolled agent credential lends itself to the designation of being a “tax expert,” that is a pretty tall order. We have worked with some of the most renowned tax attorneys nationwide who would never think of considering themselves as tax experts.

If you are being represented by any individual advertising as an expert or specialist, you may want to refer them to the following article by the Bar Association.

IRS Offshore Disclosure

At Golding & Golding, we focus exclusively on IRS Offshore Disclosure.

Voluntary Disclosure is for individuals, estates, and businesses who are out of compliance with the IRS and the Department of Treasury. What does that mean? It means that if you are required to file a U.S. tax return and you don’t do so timely, then you are out of compliance.

If the IRS discovers that you are out of compliance, you may become subject to extensive fines and penalties – ranging from a warning letter all the way up to tax liens, tax levies, seizures, and criminal investigations. To combat this, you can take the proactive approach and submit to Voluntary Disclosure.

Golding & Golding, A PLC

We have successfully represented clients in more than 1,000 streamlined and voluntary disclosure submissions nationwide and in over 70-different countries.

We are the “go-to” firm for other Attorneys, CPAs, Enrolled Agents, Accountants, and Financial Professionals across the globe.

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