Are you wondering if you should you work with a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or an IRS Enrolled Agent (EA) to help you with your tax needs?
You will find a lot of information on the internet and/or hear from others making a case for one over the other. Here are the highlights:
Certified Public Accountant – State License
May specialize in taxes, may do some taxes, or may not do any taxes.
- 4 separate exams – Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG).
- How much of the exams are tax focused? 25% – only the Regulation exam covers taxation
- Continuing Professional Education – 120 hours every 3 years – 2 hours must be in ethics, up to 24 hours can be non-technical (communication, management, etc.) the remaining hours can be in accounting, auditing, taxation, economics, business law, etc. The courses can be obtained from a wide variety of providers.
- Required to have significant education (including specific accounting courses) to become a CPA.
- CPA’s know accounting and may or may not specialize in taxes.
Enrolled Agent – Federal License – Department of the Treasury
They only specialize in taxes.
- 3 separate exams called the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE) – Individuals (IND), Businesses (BUS), and Representation, Practices and Procedures (REP).
- Former IRS agents with 5 years of experience in a position that regularly interprets and applies the Tax Code can become an EA without taking the exams.
- How much of the exams are tax focused? 100%
- Continuing Professional Education – 72 hours every 3 years – 2 hours must be in ethics. All of the remaining hours MUST be tax related. Required to use an IRS approved provider.
- Fully authorized to represent taxpayers before all administrative levels of Internal Revenue Service the (IRS) including audits, collections and appeals.
- No education requirement to become an EA
- EA’s know taxes and may or may not have an accounting background/education.
If you own a business you definitely need someone who can handle your taxes and has an accounting education and background.
Well what if you didn’t have to decide? What if you could have the education and experience of both credentials?
Pamela Moser is the owner and founder of Encompass Tax Solutions PLLC. She is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) AND an Enrolled Agent (EA). She is also a Certified Tax Coach (CTC) for advanced tax planning and a Certified Tax Representation Consultant (CTRC). She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting, a Bachelor’s Degree in Management, and a Master’s Degree in Taxation from Golden Gate University (the top tax graduate program in the country).
She started in private accounting in January of 2000 and made the switch to public accounting in May of 2007. She specializes in IRS tax problem resolution and taxpayer representation. In addition to her regular continuing education, she has taken an extensive amount of very specific education focused on tax resolution/representation.