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Enrolled Agents - Frequently Asked Questions


Information about Enrolled Agents


1. What is an Enrolled Agent? (updated 9/17/14)

An Enrolled Agent is a person who has earned the privilege of representing taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service. Enrolled Agents, like Attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs), are generally unrestricted as to which taxpayers they can represent, what types of tax matters they can handle, and which IRS offices they can represent clients before.

2. How do you become an Enrolled Agent? (updated 3/9/16)

Follow these steps to become an EA:

  1. Obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number;
  2. Apply to take the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE);
  3. Achieve passing scores on all 3 parts of the SEE;*
  4. Apply for enrollment; and
  5. Pass a tax compliance check to ensure that you have filed all necessary tax returns and there are no outstanding tax liabilities.

*Certain former IRS employees, by virtue of past technical experience, may be exempt from the exam requirement.

Review the Candidate Information Bulletin (pdf) to get started.

3. How much does it cost to take the Special Enrollment Examination? (updated 9/8/17)

There is a $111.94 fee per part paid at the time of appointment scheduling. The test fee is non-refundable and non-transferable. Effective March 1, 2018, the fee to take each part of the SEE will change from $111.94 to $181.94. Please refer to the Candidate Information Bulletin to read the policy on rescheduling appointments.

4. Is it possible to become an Enrolled Agent if I have or have had problems with my personal tax obligations? (posted 11/8/11)

Failure to timely file tax returns or to pay your taxes may be grounds for denying an application for enrollment. The Return Preparer Office will review all of the facts and circumstances to determine whether a denial of enrollment is warranted.

5. How can I replace an enrollment card? (updated 9/17/14)

A replacement card may be obtained by calling (855) 472-5540. You may also request a replacement card by e-mail at epp@irs.gov or by fax at (855) 889-7959. If requesting the card via e-mail, please do not include your SSN. The request should include your name, contact information, such as your daytime phone, and your Enrolled Agent number.

6. Do Enrolled Agents have any continuing education requirements? (updated 9/17/14)

Generally, Enrolled Agents must obtain a minimum of 72 hours per enrollment cycle (every three years). Additionally, they must also obtain a minimum of 16 hours of continuing education (including 2 hours of ethics or professional conduct) each enrollment year. Review detailed information about continuing education for Enrolled Agents.

7. If I live outside the U.S. am I required to obtain a PTIN prior to becoming an Enrolled Agent? (posted 4/25/13)

Yes, all applicants must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in order to register to take the examination. Obtain a PTIN at www.irs.gov/ptin.


SEE Content/Scoring


1. What is covered on the SEE? (posted 11/8/11)

The SEE contains three parts as follows:

2. How many questions are on each part of the examination? (updated 3/9/16)

Each part of the SEE contains 100 questions.

3. How do I prepare for the examination? Are there any study materials? (updated 3/1/17)

When studying for the examination, you may wish to refer to the Internal Revenue Code, Treasury Department Circular 230, IRS publications, and IRS tax forms and their accompanying instructions. Circular 230, current and prior year versions of IRS publications, forms and instructions are accessible online at IRS.gov. You may also wish to search the internet for commercially available materials and preparation courses in preparing to take the SEE. The IRS has a list of approved CE Providers , some of whom provide SEE test preparation courses. The IRS does not make recommendations as to any specific provider.

IRS Tax Map may also be useful when studying for the exam. Tax Map gathers IRS forms, instructions, publications, and web pages by topic and organizes links to these sources on a single topic page. Content on Tax Map is tax year specific and currently has 2012 to 2015 information available.

Visit Prometric’s website for additional information on how to prepare for your exam, including a computer-based test tutorial, a video that describes what to expect on test day, test center regulations, and a “test drive” of the examination. Test Drive is free of charge and provides you the full testing experience from scheduling an appointment, arriving at the test center, completing security screening and check-in, taking a 15 minute practice exam, and checking out. Sample test questions were developed for the May 1, 2017 testing cycle and provide examples of the types of questions on the examination. Being better prepared for the test experience will allow you to perform better the day of your test.

4. What is the time limit for each part of the examination? (posted 7/17/06)

Each part is 3.5 hours long. The actual seat time is 4 hours to allow for a tutorial and survey.

5. What is the weight of each question? (posted 7/17/06)

Each item is weighted equally.

6. Do the questions change from year to year? (updated 4/25/13)

A new exam is introduced each May based on tax law through December 31 of the previous year.

7. Do you have to take each part of the examination in order (Part 1 first; then Part 2; then Part 3)? (updated 3/9/16)

No, examinations can be taken in any order. Each exam part may be taken 4 times per testing window, which runs from May 1 to the end of February.

8. Is the examination offered year round? (updated 3/9/16)

The test is offered from May 1 to the end of February of the following year. The test is not offered during the annual blackout period in March and April. During this time the test is updated with the most recent tax law.


SEE Availability/Scheduling


1. How do I schedule an appointment to take the examination? (updated 9/8/17)

You can schedule an examination appointment at any time online at Prometric.com/see; by calling 800.306.3926 (if you live in North America) between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. (ET), Monday through Friday; or by submitting Form 2587. The fee is paid at the time of appointment scheduling. MasterCard, Visa, and American Express are accepted. E-checks are accepted only with telephone scheduling. The online registration process requires you to create a user profile before you schedule and pay for your exam. Refer to the job aid under “What’s New” on Prometric.com/see for steps on creating an account.

After your appointment has been scheduled, you will receive a confirmation number. Keep this number for your records - you will need it to reschedule, cancel, or change your appointment. If you schedule online you will receive an appointment confirmation email containing the appointment date, time, location, examination name, and confirmation number. Review the confirmation email immediately for accuracy and, if an error occurred, notify Prometric at 800-306-3926 Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.

You may take each part of the examination at your convenience and in any order. Examination parts do not have to be taken on the same day or on consecutive days. You may take each part up to four times during the test window. The current test window is May 1, 2017 to February 28, 2018. Testing is unavailable during the months of March and April while the examination is being updated.

Effective March 1, 2018, the fee to take each part of the SEE will change from $111.94 to $181.94. Scheduling an exam appointment for the May 1, 2018 – February 28, 2019 testing window will be available starting March 1, 2018. Appointments scheduled for the current testing window (May 1, 2017 – February 28, 2018) cannot be rescheduled into the next testing window (May 1, 2018 – February 28, 2019). 

If you fail an exam part, you must allow 24 hours before scheduling another appointment for that same part. However, you can schedule an appointment for a different exam part without waiting 24 hours.   

2. What is the appointment cancellation and rescheduling policy? (revised 9/8/17)

You can reschedule your appointment online or by phone. You will need your confirmation number.

Appointments scheduled for the current testing window (May 1, 2017 – February 28, 2018) cannot be rescheduled into the next testing window (May 1, 2018 – February 28, 2019).

There are no refunds for cancellations. Rescheduling fees will apply as follows:

  • No fee if you reschedule at least 30 calendar days prior to your appointment date
  • $35 fee if you reschedule 5 to 29 calendar days before your appointment date
  • You will be required to pay another full examination fee if you reschedule less than five calendar days before your appointment date    

Rescheduling an appointment must be done online at Prometric.com/see or by calling 800-306-3926.

Your entire fee will be forfeited if you miss your appointment or arrive late by 30 minutes or more.

3. How can I get more information or schedule an appointment by phone if I live overseas? (updated 3/9/16)

Candidates testing outside the United States can find international contact center phone numbers by going to Prometric.com/see and clicking on “Contact Numbers-Including International Contacts”, which is on the left margin of the page.

4. I previously passed parts of the exam, how long can I carry over those scores? (updated 3/1/17)

Candidates who pass a part of the examination can carry over passing scores up to two years from the date the candidate took the examination. For example, if a candidate took and passed part 1 on November 15, 2015 and passed part 2 on February 15, 2016, that individual has until November 15, 2017 to pass the remaining part otherwise he/she loses credit for part 1. On February 15, 2018, if that individual still has not passed all other parts of the examination, he/she loses credit for part 2.

During the period May 1, 2016 to August 13, 2016 in which there was no immediate scoring, the two year carry over period was extended for candidates who took an exam during this time frame. Candidates who took the examination during this period will have the two year window extended by 105 days.    

For example, assume a candidate passed part 1 on November 15, 2014. Subsequently, the candidate took part 2 on May 13, 2016. Normally that candidate would have until November 15, 2016, to pass parts 2 and 3 or otherwise lose credit for part 1. However because the candidate took part 2 during the period between May 1, 2016, and August 13, 2016, the candidate would have until 105 days after November 15, 2016, to pass all parts of the examination, without losing credit for part 1.  

To further illustrate with a second example, assume a candidate took part 1 of examination for the first time on May 20, 2016, and passed. Normally, that candidate would have until May 20, 2018, to pass the remaining parts, without losing credit for the part taken. However, because the candidate took the test during the period May 1, 2016, to August 13, 2016, the candidate would have until 105 days after May 20, 2018, to pass the remaining parts of the examination or else lose credit for part 1.


Test Center Environment


1. Will the examination be open book or resource assisted? (updated 3/9/16)

The examinations are closed book. You are not allowed to access notes, books, reference materials, or electronic devices at any time during the examination or during breaks. Unauthorized access to notes, books, reference materials or electronic devices may result in your test results being nullified by the IRS. You will be provided scratch paper and pencils at the test center and you are not allowed to leave the testing room with notes taken during the examination.

2. What should I bring to the testing center? (updated 3/1/17)

Bring one unexpired government-issued photo ID that includes your name, photo, and signature. Your first and last name must exactly match the first and last name you used to schedule the examination. Failure to provide appropriate identification at the time of the examination is considered a missed appointment. As a result, you will not be allowed to test and forfeit your examination fee. 

Paper, pencil and a calculator will be provided at the test site. Personal items are not allowed in the testing room and must be stored in a locker. Persons not scheduled to take a test are not permitted to wait in the test center. A complete list of test center rules can be found in the Candidate Information Bulletin at Prometric.com/see.

3. Why can't we have food or water in the testing room? (updated 8/14/16)

There are three reasons candidates may not bring food or water into the testing room. First, it minimizes the opportunities for cheating. Second, it avoids possible damage to computer equipment from spillage. Third, eating and drinking can be a distraction to other test takers. Candidates may take unscheduled breaks to access the test center’s water fountain and are allowed to store bottled water and food in their locker.

4. Will anything I bring to the test center be inspected? (updated 3/1/17)

For U.S. candidates only, if you are wearing eyeglasses you will be required to remove them for visual inspection to ensure they don’t contain a recording device. Large jewelry items must be stored in your locker due to concerns over concealed recording devices. These inspections will take a few seconds and will be done at check-in and again upon return from breaks before you enter the testing room to ensure you do not violate any security protocol. With the exception of wedding and engagement rings and small stud earrings, jewelry is prohibited. Please do not wear other jewelry to the test center. Ties, bowties and hair accessories are subject to inspection. Please refrain from using ornate clips, combs, barrettes, headbands, tie clips, cuff links and other accessories as you may be prohibited from wearing them in to the testing room and asked to store them in your locker. 


Test Results
 

1. How do I obtain my SEE results? (updated 8/14/16)

Examination results are printed immediately upon completion of the examination.

2. How do you determine if a person passes or fails? What is the passing score? (updated 8/14/16)

The scoring methodology was determined by the IRS following a scoring study. A panel of subject matter experts composed of Enrolled Agents and IRS representatives established a passing score for a candidate who meets the minimum qualifications to be an Enrolled Agent.. The scaled passing score is 105.

3. What is a scaled score system? How can I determine my score? (updated 8/14/16)

Scaled scores are determined by calculating the number of questions answered correctly and converting it to a scale that ranges from 40 to 130. The IRS has set the scaled passing score at 105. Failing candidates are provided a scaled score value so that they may see how close they are to being successful. Candidates that receive a scaled score of 104 are very close to passing. Candidates with a scaled score of 45 are far from being successful. You will also receive diagnostic information to assist you with future examination preparation.

If you pass, the score report will show a passing designation. It will not show a score. All score values above passing indicate that a candidate is qualified — not how qualified. You will also receive diagnostic information which may indicate areas of weakness in your performance where you may need continuing education.   


Applying for Enrollment
 

1. Once I have passed all three parts of the SEE how do I officially become an Enrolled Agent? (updated 3/9/16)

You must apply for enrollment within one year of the date you passed the third examination part.

You may electronically apply for enrollment and make secure payment of the $30 enrollment fee at www.pay.gov. Click Find an Agency, select Treasury (UST): Internal Revenue Service (IRS), then click Application for Enrolled Agents. You will be given the option to pay online from your bank account (ACH) or with a debit or credit card.

You may also apply for enrollment by mail by submitting a completed Form 23, Application for Enrollment to Practice before the IRS, along with a check for $30 to the address listed on the Form.

Please allow 60 days for processing (90-120 days if you are a former IRS employee).

As part of the evaluation of your enrollment application, the IRS will conduct a suitability check that will include a review of your personal tax compliance.

2. Do I have to send my test results to the IRS? (posted 11/8/11)

No. Test results are automatically shared with the IRS.

3. How can I check on the status of my Enrolled Agent application? (updated 3/1/17)

Form 23 – Application for Enrollment to Practice Before the IRS - generally takes 60 days for processing (90-120 days for former IRS employees). If you haven’t received a response after 60 days, send an email to epp@irs.gov and include your full name and address or call (855) 472-5540, Monday - Friday 6:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CST.