An Enrolled Agent is a person who has earned the privilege of representing taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service by passing a three-part comprehensive IRS test covering individual and business tax returns. So stringent is this examination, that only about one third of those who take it are able to pass. In fact, Enrolled Agents account for less than 10% of all individuals currently practicing in the field of taxation. 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. This education is narrowly confined to subjects related to taxation in order to maximize an Enrolled Agent's proficiency. The education is closely monitored by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Enrolled Agents, like attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs), have unlimited practice rights. This means they are unrestricted as to which taxpayers they can represent, what types of tax matters they can handle, and which IRS offices they can represent clients before. Only Enrolled Agents are required to demonstrate to the Internal Revenue Service their competence in matters of taxation before they may represent a taxpayer before the IRS. Unlike attorneys and CPAs, who may or may not choose to specialize in taxes, all EAs specialize in matters of taxation. EAs are also the only taxpayer representatives who receive their right to practice from the United States government. (CPAs and attorneys are licensed by the states.)