818.368.5374   Blog | FAQs | Contact


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Enrolled Agent vs. Accountant

I am asked all the time why I'm an EA (Enrolled Agent) and not an accountant or CPA (Certified Public Accountant), and what's the difference.

It's a common and understandable mistake to think that anyone who can prepare taxes or provides financial services is also an accountant. While the difference isn't huge, it should be noted that accountants, and not enrolled agents, can essentially perform audits. An enrolled agent does not have this ability. This means that while I can be audited and I can manage your finances to prevent audits (by doing work correctly and legally!) I cannot, on behalf of the government, audit an individual or business.

Aside from this auditing ability, I am capable and legally allowed to perform the functions most people of the public understand accountants and CPA's to be able to do. I can prepare tax returns, set up and manage billing and payroll for businesses and help individuals with financial and estate planning and give business advice. According to the NAEA (National Association of Enrolled Agents), of which I am a member, an Enrolled Agent is,

"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."

The word enrolled is important. I am licensed by the NAEA and must maintain my license in order to continue practicing with the privileges granted to an EA. I am legally allowed by the Federal Government to prepare taxes and speak with the IRS on behalf of my clients.  I earned my license by passing a comprehensive exam and maintain my license by attending yearly continuing education courses. All candidates have a background check performed before they are licensed, so you should always work with a tax professional who is either a CPA or EA in order to ensure you are working with an experienced and licensed professional.

Why do I recommend Enrolled Agents who are members of the NAEA, like myself? Because the NAEA is both a respected and reputable organization representing my profession but the standards in order to maintain membership are important. Continuing education requirements and all EA's in the organization must abide by a strict code of ethics. These ethics and continuing education requirements exceed the standard the IRS sets for EA's and tax professionals in order to continue practicing their profession legally.

If you have more questions about the difference between a CPA and EA or want to learn more about my background, education and experience, give me a call or send me an email!

And don't forget tax season is in full swing! Be in touch with me if you haven't yet begun preparing your 2011 Tax Return.

Labels: , , , , , ,

© A Stone's Throw 2010 | Web Design by Infinite Communications