What is the National Association of Enrolled Agents?

Jill Bridges
Expert Contributor
Last Updated:
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Taxpayers who are dealing with back taxes often seek assistance from a professional, such as an enrolled agent (EA). By working with an EA, you may be able to lower your tax burden so you can clear your back taxes and get back to enjoying your life.

Enrolled agents have the option to join professional organizations at the state level and the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA). Learn more about the purpose of the NAEA and find out why working with an enrolled agent may be your best choice if you’re struggling with back taxes.

What is an Enrolled Agent?

Before learning more about the NAEA, it’s a good idea to learn more about who enrolled agents are and what they do. An enrolled agent is a tax professional who has been federally-licensed and has the ability to represent a taxpayer when communicating with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

These agents can both advise you about tax strategy and help you to prepare your annual tax returns. Many EAs are self-employed, but others can work for tax firms. Agents have the skill to help you prepare your tax return so that your tax burden and risk for an audit are low. Enrolled agents work with a wide range of taxpayers:

  • Individuals
  • Partnerships
  • Corporations
  • Estates

Tax professionals interested in becoming an enrolled agent can choose one of two options. For most professionals, an online examination is the best option. After acquiring a Personal Tax Identification Number (PTIN), the prospective EA can apply for the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE). The exam consists of three parts, and a passing score is required on all parts before licensing is possible.

What is the National Association of Enrolled Agents?

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Once a passing score is achieved, the tax professional can file Form 23 to apply for their license. A background check is required before a professional will be licensed as an enrolled agent. This background check will include an examination of the individual’s tax record. Failing to file tax returns or pay taxes on time may result in a rejected application.

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Gaining experience with the IRS is the second method for becoming an enrolled agent. Applicants must have at least five years of experience with the IRS, and should also possess the technical expertise outlined in Circular 230.

To maintain their status, the IRS requires that enrolled agents engage in 72 hours of continuing education every three years. Because the requirements for enrolled agent licensure are so difficult, there are only slightly over 50,000 agents currently licensed in the United States.

What is the NAEA?

The NAEA is an organization focused on promoting the enrolled agent professional in several ways. For instance, members of the organization will have access to networking and educational opportunities that are the foundation of success in the tax preparation industry.

In addition to helping currently enrolled agents, the NAEA can also help those interested in entering the profession. The organization provides a variety of resources for unlicensed tax professionals who are considering pursuing an enrolled agent license.

NAEA Membership

Those interested in joining the NAEA have several different options. For instance, enrolled agents can apply for full memberships status. As a full member, an agent will have access to all of the organization’s resources, including a listing on their agent database. Member dues are $265, and there is also a $100 application fee.

Tax professionals who are not enrolled agents can also join the NAEA as an associate. Non-enrolled agents pay the same member dues as enrolled agents. Finally, the NAEA offers an Academic Associate for instructors or students in a program related to the tax field, including accounting and finance. The program must be offered by a professional school or an accredited college. The Academic Associate membership is complimentary and lasts for two years.

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For those new to the enrolled agent profession, discounts on dues are available. You can get $100 off initial dues if you have been licensed as a registered agent in the past year or have just passed your SEE exam. Verification is required before the discount will be applied.

Enrolled Agents vs. Other Tax Professionals

If you’re looking for a someone to help you prepare your tax return or get out of back taxes, it’s important to understand the difference between enrolled agents and other types of tax professionals such as CPAs and tax attorneys.

Licensing is the biggest difference between EAs and other tax professionals. An enrolled agent is licensed at the federal level, meaning they can practice anywhere in the country. CPAs and attorneys, on the other hand, are licensed at the state level, which means they may only be certified to practice in their state.

Enrolled agents work in a highly specialized field compared to CPAs. If you work with a CPA, they may focus on several different areas of accounting, meaning their specialty may not be taxes. Enrolled agents focus specifically on tax issues. They understand the most current tax laws and the different solutions for helping taxpayers get out of back taxes.

Enrolled agents are also held to strict ethical standards and continuing education requirements. As mentioned, enrolled agents must complete 72 hours of continuing education every three years, and the NAEA requires its members to complete an additional 30 hours of education. This means that an EA receives advanced training that allows them to effectively help you with your tax issues.

All agents must follow the ethics rules in Circular 230, which is issued by the department of treasury. Members of the NAEA must also abide by the Code of Ethics and Rules of Professional Conduct of the Association.

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Finding an Enrolled Agent

Because of their advanced training and ethical standards, working with an NAEA-affiliated enrolled agent is one of the best solutions for resolving your back taxes. To make finding an agent easier, you can use the NAEA Find a Tax Expert website.

Many NAEA enrolled agents are employed by some of the country’s best back tax assistance companies. Finding a back tax assistance firm that employs enrolled agents may get you the best results for your money. To find a back tax assistance firm that meets your needs, check out Solvable’s back tax assistance company reviews. At Solvable, we are passionate about helping taxpayers get rid of their back tax assistance, and we provide a variety of resources that can make living obligation-free a reality.


Jill Bridges
Expert Contributor
Last Updated: