It always a surprise to us how few individuals have ever heard of an Enrolled Agent. But then, how many people in the general public know what a Licensed Practical Nurse does?
To quote the NEAA web site:
"An Enrolled Agent (EA) is a federally-authorized tax practitioner who has technical expertise in the field of taxation and who is empowered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before all administrative levels of the Internal Revenue Service for audits, collections, and appeals." (www.naea.org) Additionally, they are required to complete 24 hours of annual continuing education. Members of the National Association of Enrolled Agents, are required to accrue 30 a year (and, yes, Joe is a member).
Why is that important? Can't I just use a CPA?
CPA's specialize in public accounting, not necessarily taxes. Joe's bachelor's in accounting emphasized general accounting principles (rules about how to account for various business transactions); he only received one 3 hr credit course in taxation. To gain his knowledge base as an EA, he completed numerous additional education hours and then had the fun of taking a 4 part 2 day-long exam (2002). We are not saying you shouldn't use a CPA, but make sure he has a strong background in taxation if you do.
CPAs are state license. They are not supposed to even advertise over state lines unless they hold similar licenses in the other state, or a compact style of license. Our tax practice involves multi-state taxation issues. Many times, the federal return is the easy part compared to knowing the rules and regulations of 50 individual tax jurisdictions.