Wednesday, October 23, 2019
Jessica Malone Achieves Enrolled Agent Certificate
Jessica Malone of Gardner & Billing CPAs PLLC recently achieved professional status as an Enrolled Agent.
What is an enrolled agent, you ask?
An Enrolled Agent (EA) is a federally-authorized tax practitioner who has technical expertise in the field of taxation and who is empowered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before all administrative levels—examination, collection, and appeals—of the Internal Revenue Service. In addition to taxpayer representation, enrolled agents may provide tax consultation services and prepare and sign a wide range of federal and state tax returns.
So, is that like a CPA?
While both CPAs and EAs have expertise in taxes, the requirements to achieve these credentials differ. CPAs are licensed through the State. In Montana, CPA candidates must receive 150 credits in accounting and business at a college or university, meet the 2,000 hour experience requirement and then pass the four-part Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination. CPAs not only study tax issues, they also gain expertise in accounting matters such as financial planning and auditing.
In comparison, EAs are authorized at the federal level. Candidates must pass a three-part series of tests called the Special Enrollment Examination that covers individual and business tax laws and representation issues. The enrolled agent exam focuses mostly on tax preparation matters and very little on general accounting practices. The State of Montana recognizes federal Enrolled Agent status for preparation of state return filings.
Both enrolled agents and certified public accountants enjoy virtually unlimited practice rights before the IRS. That means there are no restrictions to the types of tax issues they can handle and the type of taxpayers they can serve. Additionally, both tax professionals may represent tax clients before any type of IRS office. Lastly, EAs and CPAs are all required to meet specific ethical and continuing education requirements.
Jessica discusses her path to becoming an Enrolled Agent…
I started at the firm with Dave and Melissa in September of 2013 and just finished my 6th year at this office. Although I briefly considered the CPA path, Enrolled Agent was an easy decision for me based on the licensing requirements, since I have a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistic Anthropology. I never took a single accounting class in college! So rather than starting from scratch with college courses, I decided to use the practical knowledge I’d achieved through my employment and embark on the road of self-study of IRS material. Dave and Melissa have both been very supportive of this process. Enrolled Agent is knowledge-based and determined by scores on the examination testing. Once I passed the three part exam, I then had to pass a background and tax compliance check before receiving my certificate issued by the IRS. I am especially inspired by Melissa and I look forward to growing my experience base with this team.