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Enrolled Retirement Plan Agent Frequently Asked Questions


General Questions
 

1. Who should become an ERPA?

Retirement plan professionals needing to represent clients before the Internal Revenue Service with respect to IRS forms under the 5300 and 5500 series (and who are not otherwise included in a category of individuals allowed to practice before the IRS) should consider becoming an ERPA.

Most candidates who pass the ERPA-Special Enrollment Examination will have at least 3 years of retirement experience advising clients on Compliance, Plan Operation, Plan Documents, Reporting, and Distribution provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, however experience is not required to take the examination. 

2. Do ERPAs need a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN)?

Enrolled Retirement Plan Agents are only required to obtain a PTIN if they:

  • prepare, or
  • assist in the preparation of,

all or substantially all of any tax return or claim for refund that is not on the list of forms exempt from the PTIN requirement.

ERPAs that prepare only Form 5300 or 5500 series returns are not required to obtain a PTIN. If, during the course of your work, you encounter a situation which would require you to prepare, for compensation, Form 5330 for excise taxes due, then YES, you are required to obtain a PTIN and renew it annually. If you prepare any tax return, such as 5330, 990T or 1041, that is not specifically exempt, you are required to have a PTIN.

If you never anticipate preparing any tax return for compensation, you probably do not need a PTIN. For example, if you work exclusively in the determination arena and only prepare Forms 5300, 5307 and 5310, chances are, you will not need a PTIN. Likewise, if you only perform plan administration and prepare Forms 5500 you are not required to obtain a PTIN.

However, there are advantages to having a PTIN. All IRS Continuing Education providers are required to register their programs electronically. This includes ERPA CE providers. Circular 230 contains record keeping requirements for CE credits by both you and the approved CE provider. If you have a PTIN and report it to your provider upon successful completion of a CE program, your CE provider can report your CE credits electronically. You can then access your listing of credits using your PTIN. This will aid in keeping track of your annual CE requirements as well as your reporting requirements on Form 8554-EP, Application for Renewal of Enrollment to Practice before the Internal Revenue Service as an Enrolled Retirement Plan Agent (ERPA).

3. Where can I find an ERPA?

View a list of ERPAs:

4. How do I become an enrolled retirement plan agent?

    1. Take the ERPA Special Enrollment Examination (ERPA SEE) or have qualifying experience as a former IRS employee*.

    2. Achieve a passing score on both parts of the ERPA SEE (review the ERPA-SEE Licensure Information Bulletin).

    3. Apply for enrollment using Form 23-EP upon passing the ERPA SEE.

    4. Pass a tax compliance check to ensure that you have filed all necessary tax returns and there are no outstanding tax liabilities. This check is conducted on your behalf after submission of Form 23-EP.

5. How can I check on the status of my enrolled retirement plan agent application?

Form 23-EP takes 60 days to process. If you haven’t received a response after 60 days, send an email to epp@irs.gov or call (855) 472-5540. Please be sure to include your full name and address.


Testing Questions
 

1. How do I schedule my test?

You must schedule your test through the test vendor, AIRE, LLC.

2. When can I take the ERPA SEE?

The ERPA SEE is available during 2 windows:

  • Winter 2015 window: January 6 - February 13.
  • Summer 2015 window: July 7 - August 28.

3. How much does the test cost?

The registration fee is $341 for each part of the examination. The fee is paid at the time of registration. ERPA examination fees are nontransferable and nonrefundable.

4. Where can I find study resources for the ERPA SEE?

Various organizations offer study guides and additional resources. View study resources and practice exams provided by AIRE here.


Continuing Education Questions
 

1. Which programs qualify for ERPA CE credits?

You must obtain CE credits from an IRS approved continuing education provider. View the list of approved providers.

2. I applied during an enrollment cycle, how many continuing education credits must I complete?
 
If your initial enrollment occurs during an enrollment cycle, you are required to complete 2 hours of qualifying continued education credits per month AND 2 hours of ethics or professional conduct credits per year.  When your new enrollment cycle begins, you will be required to satisfy the full 72-hour continuing education credit requirement.

Example: If you enroll in year 2 of an enrollment cycle in May, you are required to complete 2 hours of qualifying education credits for each month (May (2), June (2), July (2), August (2)…etc. until the end of the enrollment year(s); in addition to completing 2 hours of ethics or professional conduct credits for each year. Your result would be, 40 hours of CE credits with 4 hours of ethics credits for the enrollment cycle.
 
3. I enrolled in year 3 of an enrollment cycle in the month of November and my social security number ends with a five (5). How many CPE credits must I complete?
 
You are required to complete four (4) CE credits for November and December of the 3rd year; of which two (2) must be completed in Ethics courses. Your next renewal cycle 2014-2017 you will be required to complete a minimum of 72-hours of continuing education credits which encompasses three (3) calendar years. (Note: a minimum of 16 hours of continuing education credits, of which 2 credits must be on ethics, must be completed during each enrollment year of an enrollment cycle.)
 
4. I enrolled in year 2 of an enrollment cycle in the month of March and my social security number ends with a seven (7). How many CE credits must I complete?
 
Due to the month and year that you enrolled, you are required to complete 44 CPE credits before December 31, 2014. Your next renewal cycle beginning 2015-2018, you will be required to complete a minimum of 72 hours of continuing education credits.
 
5. I enrolled in year 1 of an enrollment cycle in the month of January and my social security number ends with a one (1). How many CE credits must I complete?
 
Due to the month and year that you enrolled, you are required to complete 72 CPE credits before December 31, 2015 (Note: a minimum of 16 hours of continuing education credits, of which 2 credits must be on ethics, must be completed during each enrollment year of an enrollment cycle.)
 
6. I was unable to complete the minimum continuing education credits required during an enrollment cycle, due to extenuating circumstances.
 
Refer to Section 10.6(j) of Treasury Department Circular 230 to determine if you meet the qualifications to request a waiver of continuing education requirements.
 
7. What are the recordkeeping requirements for ERPAs?
 
ERPAs must retain the following records for four years:

  • The name of the CE Provider organization;
  • The location of the program;
  • The title of the program, approval number received for the program, and copy of the program content;
  • Written outlines, course syllabi, textbook, and/or electronic materials provided or required for the program;
  • The date(s) attended;
  • The credit hours claimed;
  • The name(s) of the instructor(s), discussion leader(s), or speaker(s), if appropriate; and
  • The certificate of completion and/or signed statement of the hours of attendance obtained from the continuing education provider.
Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 17-Sep-2014