What is an EA?

Have you ever seen the title EA next to a tax professional’s name and wonder what it means? Or maybe you’re familiar with the title and you’re curious about the differences between an EA and CPA? Either way, in this blog I will be answering these frequently asked questions, as well as a few additional ones, in the hopes of illustrating why enlisting an EA could be beneficial to you when seeking a tax professional.

What is an EA?

The best place to start and the most important question is probably, “What is an EA’? EA simply designates someone as an Enrolled Agent. An enrolled agent is someone who specializes in taxation and is federally licensed to prepare tax returns and represent clients nationwide before the IRS. This makes EAs a useful resource for taxpayers when dealing with the IRS in any capacity.

What is the difference between an EA and other tax professionals?

One of the major differences between an EA and other tax professionals is the certification process. To become an EA, you can follow two different paths. One is to work for the IRS in a position that requires you to interpret the tax code. The other is to pass the Special Enrollment Exam (SEE) and a background check. The SEE is a three-part exam that the IRS administers. It covers tax concerns for individuals and businesses as well as other practices and procedures. For more info on the process to become an EA here is a link to visit: Smartassets.com.

Also, though accountants are qualified to prepare tax returns, enrolled agents specialize in taxation. Enrolled agents are federal tax professionals while professionals like CPAs are accounting professionals with taxation training. These professionals have passed the Uniform CPA Exam and met other state requirements to receive their state licenses. Enrolled agents must pass three different exams all centered around taxation and IRS representation.

Another distinction is that professionals like CPAs are licensed by the state in which they practice. This means that CPAs must adhere to specific accounting laws and regulations set forth by their respective states, while enrolled agents follow a federal tax code which allows them to practice nationally.

Lastly, since EA is an IRS designation, EAs have greater authority when it comes to assisting taxpayers with IRS issues. As federally licensed professionals, they can represent taxpayers before the IRS even if the taxpayer isn’t represented by an attorney unlike some other forms of tax professionals.

Is an EA higher than a CPA?

This is a tricky question and honestly it depends. When it comes to who has a higher designation the answer is fairly clear. Enrolled agents are tax practitioners who are licensed at the federal level by the Internal Revenue Service. Certified public accountants are licensed by their applicable state boards of accountancy. So, in regard to taxation, EA is a “higher” designation than CPA. In fact, the enrolled agent status is the highest credential awarded by the IRS for a tax professional. However, this does not mean that all EAs are better than CPAs or vice versa. Generally, EAs specialize in taxation and CPAs specialize in accounting, so they normally have different areas of expertise. But there are also CPAs that specialize in tax preparation instead of public accounting.

What do enrolled agents do?

Enrolled agents have passed a comprehensive exam that covers all aspects of taxation which authorizes them to prepare, sign and file tax returns for individuals, partnerships, corporations, trust, and estates. Furthermore, since they are appointed by the United States Department of the Treasury, they have unlimited client representation rights before the IRS, including audits, collection proceedings and appeals. For more information on audits and when to seek professional help, here is another great blog post to check out.

Why do I need an enrolled agent to do my taxes?

EAs are federally licensed tax practitioners who specialize in tax preparation and have unlimited rights to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service. If you get a letter from the IRS, are audited or are the target of a collection action, your EA can speak directly to the IRS on your behalf.

EAs are trained in a wide variety of common and unusual tax situations. With the tax laws changing yearly, it’s more critical than ever to have a qualified tax specialist on your side when preparing your taxes and creating financial strategy. Again, the enrolled agent license is the highest credential the IRS issues. They are licensed to practice nationwide and unlike attorneys or CPAs, enrolled agents specialize in taxes, which allows them to stay up to date with ever-changing IRS regulations. Here is another blog post to help with some last-minute things you can do to get prepare for tax season.


Whether you’re going through a tax audit, need someone to represent you in tax court or you’re behind on tax filings and need a professional to give you proper guidance and prepare your federal returns, an EA can be a great resource for you.

Molen and Associates was founded by Ward Molen, EA back in 1980 and we also have a few additional enrolled agents on our staff as well. So, if you need tax preparation or IRS representation, please feel free to call Molen & Associates today at (281) 440-6279!

The Molen & Associates Difference

Mike Forsyth

“Super helpful and timely. This is our first year with them and we look forward to trusting them with our taxes and business books for years to come.”

Caitlin Daulong

“Molen & Associates is amazing! They run an incredibly streamlined process, which makes filing taxes a breeze. So impressed with their attention to detail, organization, and swift execution every year. Cannot recommend them enough!”

Sy Sahrai

“I’ve been with Mr. Molen’s company for few years and I felt treated like family respect and dignity. They are caring, professional and honest, which hard to find these days. Love working with them.”

Should I Open an HSA?

Should I Open An HSA Account? Are you considering a Health Savings Account (HSA)? If so, it is vital to understand what exactly an HSA entails. With this guide, you'll learn all about it: the advantages of an HSA and how it can help you manage your medical expenses....

Personal Finance Tips for Young Adults

As someone who has been working for most of their life, I wish there was someone out there who had shown me the correct way to save money for my future. Now that I am in my 30s, I have been getting better at saving money, but there are some personal finance tips that...

How to Track Expenses

There are many different methodologies, tools, tips, and tricks for tracking expenses, and it ultimately depends on your lifestyle and how actively and accurately you want to track them. This is information I’ve pulled from other sources and compiled into a few...

How To Accurately Record Commuting Mileage and Increase Tax Deductions

Increase Tax Deductions With the Business-Mileage Rule Using the Business Mileage tax deduction can be tricky. There are lots of situations that count while others do not. We don’t like commuting mileage. You should dislike it, too. It’s personal. It’s not deductible....

Bookkeeping 101

As a new business owner, you will certainly have some responsibilities you won’t be able to avoid. One of those non-negotiable part of your business is producing financial statements. It can be overwhelming trying to master a topic such as bookkeeping but don’t worry...

Bankruptcy – Everything You Need to Know

Everything you need to know Filing for bankruptcy protection is considered a statement on your ability to repay your debt to your creditors. Filing for bankruptcy will also put a halt to foreclosure or legal actions against you, and it stops creditors from calling and...

Top Tax Tips for 2023

Tax Refunds May Be Smaller This Year Plan now to learn these 2023 tax tips avoid surprises in the future! If you’re expecting a tax refund in 2023, it may be smaller than last year, according to the IRS. Your annual balance is based on taxable income, calculated by...

Familiarize Yourself With Tax Terminology

Yes, I know, tax terminology feels like a whole new language. For most people all of tax forms can be even more confusing than a foreign language. What’s the difference between itemized deduction and standard deduction? What’s Income tax?  These words and more tax...

History of Federal Income Tax Rates: 1913 – 2021

The United States federal government levies taxes on the income of its citizens and legal residents. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the agency responsible for collecting these taxes.  Federal income tax rates have changed several times since 1913, when the...

Never Too Young To Learn About Taxes

Taxes is a topic that affects us young and old – whether we are worrying about how much taxes to pay if you win the lottery or buying your first item as a kid for $10.00 and realizing sales tax is a thing and it truly costs more than $10.00. While taxes do serve a...

Request an Appointment Today

14 + 9 =

Call us at

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This