When people hear the term Enrolled Agent, they think one of two things. Either: “What the heck is that?” or “He works for the IRS! Flee for your lives!”
EAs don’t work for the IRS. But the word “agent” automatically evokes images of an IRS agent.
The term “enrolled” means we are recognized by the Treasury Department and IRS, and “agent” means we can act on behalf of others. Thus, “Enrolled Agent.”
The term makes sense when looked at that way.
But it’s still not an ideal name because of the word “agent.”
There have been calls to change the name to something else. But as I wrote about in a 3-part piece 2 years ago, it’s not the name that’s the problem, it’s the lack of recognition. Nearly 90% of the public has never heard of an EA.
EAs have also been woeful about promoting ourselves. So much so that when our national association actually undertook advertising campaigns to promote the EA name, it was a newsworthy event.
There is an IRS Connection
So no, we don’t work for the IRS.
But, it is correct to say we’re regulated by the IRS. The EA license itself comes from the Treasury Department, and the IRS provides the oversight.