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FAQs: Enrolled Agent Continuing Education Requirements

Reference: EA CPE Credit Chart


1. How many continuing education hours must enrolled agents obtain?

Enrolled agents must obtain 72 hours of continuing education every three years. A minimum of 16 hours must be earned per year, two of which must be on ethics. Enrolled agents must use an IRS approved CE provider.

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) CPE credits for November and December of the 3rd year; of which two (2) must be completed in Ethics courses. Your next renewal cycle 2011-2014 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 CPE credits must I complete?
 
Due to the month and year that you enrolled, you are required to complete 44 CPE credits before December 31, 2011. Your next renewal cycle beginning 2012-2015, 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 CPE credits must I complete?
 
Due to the month and year that you enrolled, you are required to complete 72 CPE credits before December 31, 2012. (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 EAs and ERPAs? (revised 10/19/15)
 
Preparers 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

8. How does a preparer know that they are taking CE from an IRS-approved provider? (revised 9/14/16)
 
They should look at the public listing. Approved providers may also show the “IRS Approved Continuing Education Provider” logo. In addition, all providers are issued a Provider Number from the IRS.

Your certificate should also contain a program number.

9. Do I need to send my Certificates of Completion from programs I've taken to the IRS? (revised 4/25/12)

No. Any programs you've taken from an IRS-approved CE Provider will be reported to the IRS by the Provider. You will be able to view your completed CE credits through your online PTIN account later in 2013.

10. How can I ensure that I receive credit for the programs that I take? (revised 9/14/16)

Follow these steps:

  1. Attend a program from an approved IRS CE Provider.
  2. Give the provider your correctly spelled name and PTIN (PXXXXXXXX).
  3. Double-check that the PTIN you provide matches the PTIN in your welcome letter or online PTIN account.
  4. Beginning in mid-2013, you can check your online PTIN account to see a display of the 2013 CE programs reported to the IRS for you by providers. 

Note: CE programs attended for 2012 will never appear in your online PTIN account. The IRS is allowing PTIN holders to self-attest to meeting the 2012 CE requirement.

11. If I obtain excess hours in ethics and/or federal tax law updates, can those hours be counted toward my federal tax law requirement? (revised 9/24/12)
 
Only excess hours in federal tax law updates can be counted toward the federal tax law requirement. Excess hours in ethics and federal tax law cannot be counted toward other categories.

12. Can an identity theft or data security program qualify for continuing education credit? (revised 10/24/17)

Yes, identity theft and data security programs that meet CE program requirements focusing on enhancing tax professional awareness of protecting client data, including review of Publications 4557 and/or 4524 safeguards, can qualify for continuing education credit in the federal tax law category.

13. How many instructor hours can I earn each year? (posted 3/8/13)

You may earn a maximum of 6 instructor hours each year.

14. If I instruct a portion of a program or an entire program, can I earn both instructor and student credit hours?
 (revised 9/7/17)

If you are the only instructor for a program, you may only earn instructor hours (maximum of 6 credit hours annually). 

If you instruct a portion of a program and also attend a portion as a student, you may earn both instructor credit and student credit, in certain situations. For example, if you instructed 1 hour of an 8 hour program, you would earn instructor credit for the portion you taught (1 hour of credit per contact hour plus actual preparation time not to exceed 2 credit hours per contact hour) and, if you attended the remaining 7 hours taught by another instructor(s) you would earn 7 student credit hours.  However, if you instruct the entire program, you can only receive instructor credit, no student credit, up to the maximum annual credit limit.


15. Do I have to provide my PTIN to continuing education providers? (posted 3/8/13)

Yes, if you want the information to display in your online PTIN account in the future.

16. Can I take the same program more than once and receive credit? (posted 10/7/14)

As a general rule, preparers should not repeat a program within the same enrollment cycle, if you’re an enrolled agent, or AFSP program year. However, we do understand that a preparer may have a reason to take a program again if they feel they need a refresher on the subject matter.

17. Can an EA take an Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course and earn CE credit towards Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) requirements and/or their EA credentials? (posted 11/13/14)

No. Due to the high level of knowledge required of Enrolled Agents (EAs), this basic level “refresher” course will not be allowed for IRS credit.

Note: If an EA voluntarily takes an AFTR course (for no IRS credit), it may show in the CE history in their PTIN account, but it will not count towards either AFSP or EA CE requirement calculations.

18. How do you determine the year that credit is given for a completed program/course? (posted 2/3/16)

Programs/courses must be completed by midnight local time of the student on December 31 to count for credit in the current calendar year.


Reference: EA CPE Credit Chart