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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 suitability check, which will include tax compliance to ensure that you have filed all necessary tax returns and there are no outstanding tax liabilities; and criminal background

*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 3/1/18)

There is a $181.94 fee per part paid at the time of appointment scheduling. The test fee is non-refundable and non-transferable.

4. What types of tax issues could negatively impact consideration of an application for enrollment? (updated 10/7/18)

In general, any overdue tax return that has not been filed or any unpaid taxes unless acceptable payment arrangements have been established.

Refer to Circular 230 Sections 10.5(d)(1) and 10.51 for a complete explanation of the suitability requirements.

5. What types of criminal convictions would negatively impact consideration of an application for enrollment? (posted 10/17/18)

In general, any criminal offense resulting in a felony conviction under federal tax laws or a felony conviction related to dishonesty or a breach of trust, that is less than ten years old.

Refer to Circular 230, Sections 10.5(d)(1) and 10.51 for a complete explanation of the suitability requirements.

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.


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. 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.

4. How do I prepare for the examination? Are there any study materials? (updated 3/1/18)

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.

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, and taking a 15-minute practice exam. Sample test questions are also available as examples of the types of questions that may appear on the examination. Being better prepared for the test experience will allow you to perform better the day of your test.

5. Do the questions change from year to year? (updated 3/1/18)

For exams taken between May 1, 2018 — February 28, 2019, all references on the examination are to the Internal Revenue Code, forms and publications, as amended through December 31, 2017. Also, unless otherwise stated, all questions relate to the calendar year 2017. Questions that contain the term ‘current tax year’ refer to calendar year 2017. In answering questions, candidates should not take into account any changes as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 or any legislation or court decisions after December 31, 2017. 

6. 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.

7. 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 3/1/18)

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, 2018 to February 28, 2019. 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 be $181.94. Scheduling an exam appointment for the May 1, 2018 – February 28, 2019 testing window will be available starting March 1, 2018.

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? (updated 3/1/18)

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

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 3/1/18)

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, 2016 and passed part 2 on February 15, 2017, that individual has until November 15, 2018 to pass the remaining part otherwise he/she loses credit for part 1. On February 15, 2019, 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, 2015. Subsequently, the candidate took part 2 on May 13, 2016. Normally that candidate would have until November 15, 2017, 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, 2017, 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 and criminal background.

2. 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.

Note: This mailbox is not for IRS employee verification. If you are trying to confirm whether someone is an actual IRS employee because you received an unsolicited visit, phone call, or email claiming to be from the IRS, please visit: https://www.irs.gov/privacy-disclosure/report-phishing.