The term "enrolled agent" is a title used in the United States to refer to a person who has met the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) requirements for representing taxpayers in dealings with the IRS and preparing tax forms for their clients. You have two choices when you want to become an enrolled agent. You can choose to study and pass an exam in order to demonstrate that you have the knowledge necessary for this job, or you can qualify by proving you have acceptable experience with the IRS, such as if you have been employed by the IRS in the past. Additionally, you may have to pass a background check as part of this process.
Your background will usually dictate what you need to do to become an enrolled agent. If you don't have prior experience working with the IRS, you will typically need to pass an examination to secure this position. The exam you will have to take is referred to as the Special Enrollment Examination, which includes three separate parts. Part one involves tax codes for individuals and part two covers tax law as it pertains to business. The third part covers practices and procedures of the IRS as well as matters involving taxpayer representation.
If you have experience working with the IRS, this may prove enough to allow you to become an enrolled agent without taking an examination. To get started on this path, you can visit the IRS website and read Circular 230 to learn whether or not you are eligible. Usually, former employees of the IRS are eligible without taking an examination. Once you've determined that you are eligible, you can apply for this job with the Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility, a process that usually includes completing required forms and providing information about your experience with the IRS as well as listing any related training. You can find the application form that starts the process, IRS Form 23, on the IRS website.
No matter which route you take to become an enrolled agent, you will typically have to pass a background check as part of the application process. This check is to ensure that you have not engaged in any conduct that would disqualify you from being an enrolled agent. This includes any actions that could result in the loss of licensing as a certified public accountant or as a lawyer. Additionally, an evaluation of your IRS tax account is included as part of your background check. If the reviewer finds that you haven't paid or filed your taxes as required, you may face a denial.