"An enrolled agent is a person who has earned the privilege of representing taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service by either passing a three-part comprehensive IRS test covering individual and business tax returns, or through experience as a former IRS employee. Enrolled agent status is the highest credential the IRS awards. Individuals who obtain this elite status must adhere to ethical standards and complete 72 hours of continuing education courses every three years."
"Enrolled agents, like attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs), have unlimited practice rights. This means they are 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."
The National Association of Enrolled Agents has a wealth of knowledge on this credential, as well as a Find a Tax Expert tool!
Enrolled Agents (EA) specialize in taxation and representation. They are federally licensed by the IRS, meaning they can practice in all 50 states, and they have expertise in all aspects of taxation. EAs achieve their credential by passing the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE), administered by the IRS, proving their competency in preparing all types of tax returns. An enrolled agent may also represent taxpayers to the IRS in various matters, including audits and collections. In order to maintain their credential, EAs are required to complete 72 hours of continuing education every three years. By hiring an enrolled agent you are guaranteed to work with a tax expert, as well as someone who can solve issues with the IRS on your behalf.
Certified Public Accountants (CPA) specialize in accounting; they may or may not specialize in taxes. CPAs are licensed by the states, so the requirements may vary from one state to another. Typically a bachelor's degree in accounting is required to sit for the CPA exam. Like enrolled agents, CPAs have unlimited representation rights, but only enrolled agents are required to demonstrate their tax expertise.