Enrolled Agent Job Description
Enrolled agents are federally authorized tax specialists who have unlimited rights to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Clients typically consult them to resolve tax liens, tax levies, unpaid penalties, and other tax issues, since enrolled agents’ services cover the entire process, from creating an actionable plan to filing the proper forms and even speaking on the clients’ behalf in legal matters. Taking on the role of advisor, they guide clients to attain compliance with tax regulations. Enrolled agents are often self-employed or part of an accounting company, and strict deadlines along with significant paperwork make for a hectic, fast-paced role.
Enrolled Agent Duties and Responsibilities
Daily job responsibilities for enrolled agents depend on the complexity of the taxes they’re filing and the type of organization they’re working for. However, the following core tasks are commonly associated with the job:
In order to get a clear understanding of the client’s tax situation, enrolled agents hold multiple consultations with clients, where they conduct interviews and collect the relevant financial documents. During these sessions, enrolled agents also answer clients’ questions regarding tax and inform them about the impact of tax laws on their business.
Develop Tax Strategy
Whether they’re working with individuals or companies, enrolled agents assist with developing tax strategy, from large-scale annual financial planning to advice for specific cases and transactions. A useful part of this is identifying opportunities to minimize taxes, such as tax loss harvesting.
Enrolled agents prepare tax-related forms for clients, including multiyear, multistate, and year-end tax forms. They usually accomplish these as e-files, which they then print out and send back to clients for review and signing. Once they obtain client approval, they submit these forms to IRS and state agencies.
Review Accounting Procedures
As tax practitioners, it’s the duty of enrolled agents to examine their clients’ accounting procedures for compliance. In particular, they meticulously review tax returns, checking if the information is accurate and notifying clients if they discover violations or errors.
With the exception of tax courts, enrolled agents may represent clients in all hearings, conferences, and other meetings with the IRS regarding tax issues. They can also communicate with the IRS on behalf of clients through in-person discussions, mail correspondence, or digital means.
Enrolled Agent Skills and Qualifications
Enrolled agents are meticulous individuals who process paperwork efficiently and use their tax know-how to find solutions for clients. They possess federal authorization along with the following skills:
- Technical tax aptitude – enrolled agents must have an in-depth understanding of tax types and procedures if they are to give advice on how to handle tax issues, such as IRS investigations or unfiled tax returns
- Research – tax laws change frequently and vary from state to state, so enrolled agents must remain up to date. They also need research skills for dealing with diverse situations that require very specific laws
- Critical thinking – enrolled agents must be critical thinkers who can analyze a client’s financial standing, goals, and tax history to resolve problems and optimize accounting procedures
- Customer service – clients come to enrolled agents for help with tax issues. Given that this is often stressful and confusing for clients, enrolled agents must provide a comfortable, safe environment where clients can express their questions and concerns
- Communication skills – enrolled agents must be able to explain technical details to clients using everyday language. Aside from this, they must exhibit good verbal and written communication skills when representing clients before the IRS
Tools of the Trade
Enrolled agents are comfortable using the following software and tools in a given workday:
- Accounting software (Sage, QuickBooks, Zoho Books)
- Tax-related documents (tax returns, withholding certificates, wages, and tax statements)
- Microsoft Suite (Word, Excel)
Enrolled Agent Education and Training
There are no minimum education requirements for enrolled agents, although most have a high school diploma at minimum, and a degree in accounting, finance, or a related field can be useful. Enrolled agents become eligible for practice by passing all three parts of the Special Enrollment Exam (SEE), which is regulated by the IRS. However, CPAs, lawyers, and those who have worked in the IRS for five years in a position requiring tax code interpretation can apply directly for enrollment without taking the exam.
Enrolled Agent Salary and Outlook
PayScale data shows that enrolled agents earn an annual median income of nearly $49,000. Those in the lowest 10 percent of earners make as little as $30,000 every year, while
those in the top 10 percent earn as much as $76,000.
Since enrolled agents work independently or within accounting firms, they share many job duties with accountants and auditors, a sector that has a positive job outlook of 10 percent until 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This is primarily because of economic growth and the increasing complexity of taxes and regulations.
Check out some of these resources as you explore the career path of an enrolled agent:
National Association of Enrolled Agents – NAEA is the premier community for enrolled agents nationwide. Committed to deepening the tax expertise of its members, it offers diverse offline and online learning opportunities, updates about tax news and policy changes, and business marketing tools
The Enrolled Agent Tax Consulting Practice Guide: Learn How to Develop, Market, and Operate a Profitable Tax and IRS Representation Practice – this practical book discusses how enrolled agents can establish a thriving practice. Supplemented with interviews with successful enrolled agents, it gives classic tips on marketing and promotion, interacting with clients, and choosing price points for services
Accounting Today – enrolled agents who want to sharpen their bookkeeping and auditing skills will find much to learn in this online business news magazine, which publishes intelligent, thoughtful articles about tax laws, accounting topics, and business building
Taxation with Representation: Advice from a Tax Resolutions Specialist – written by an enrolled agent and tax resolutions expert, this easy-to-read guide tackles the taxation process, laying down best practices for businesses as well as how to respond to issues and consult with specialists