What are the Continuing Education Requirements for Enrolled Agents?

What are the Continuing Education Requirements for Enrolled Agents?

By Tim Frye

As if becoming an enrolled agent wasn’t difficult enough, there are strict continuing education requirements demanded from current enrolled agents.  The regular tax preparer is held to the standard twenty hours of continuing education yearly, but the enrolled agents are treated differently when it comes to continuing education.  And as the IRS grows less and less lenient on tax preparers and their inadequacies, these requirements will grow stricter with the passing of time. This article will expound upon the continuing education requirements of enrolled agents and how exactly the process is to be completed.


Becoming an Enrolled Agent

Before we get into the specifics of the enrolled agent continuing education, let us first discuss how difficult it can be to even become an enrolled agent. 

To become an enrolled agent requires a truly impeccable understanding of taxation and its intricacies, and it takes many tax preparers longer than a decade to prepare for the three examinations.  So once one becomes an enrolled agent, he or she is sure to keep up on the continuing education requirements and not risk losing that precious and coveted enrolled agent license. 

The process of becoming an enrolled agent is rigorous to say the least, and you may have to wait up to 90 days to actually receive the title after passing all tests and subsequent background checks. 

Enrolled Agent Continuing Education Requirements

As stated previously, tax preparers are held to the standard yearly twenty hours of continuing education to keep their PTIN and do taxes in the following years. 

Enrolled Agents must complete seventy-two Hours of continuing education, which is required to be completed in no more than three years.  Enrolled agents have three years to complete the task, but are still required to obtain a minimal amount of those entire hours yearly to maintain their EA license.  The agent must start an “enrolled cycle” which will give the person a designated three years to complete the 72 hours.  The tax preparer must complete a minimum of sixteen hours per year, with two of those sixteen being on tax preparer ethics, this schedule stays within the enrollment cycle regulations. 

What Subjects are in the Enrolled Agent Continuing Education Courses?

Enrolled agent subject material is much more complicated than that of the material given to containing tax preparers.  Enrolled agent questions are often more involved, and require a great amount of tax knowledge to answer.

The continuing education for enrolled agents is heavily based federal tax knowledge, business taxation subjects, and a small portion of ethics based subjects. 

Tax preparers who are also enrolled agents are held to significantly more stringent standards than regular tax preparers, so enrolled agents should always be keeping up with the latest tax information to stay knowledgeable in this demanding arena.