The tax-preparation field has a lot of “wild west” characteristics. Anyone can prepare a tax return, whether they hold a license or not. A person need not even have any prior experience before preparing taxes for compensation.
Of all of the preparers in the tax world, only Enrolled Agents are required to take continuing education in taxes.
I have made comments, on this blog, about how dumb CPE can be. The fact that one can attend a 2-day seminar, sit in the back texting on their phone or playing on the internet, and still get 16 hours of CPE for just being there and not dying before the seminar ended.
But CPE is important … as long as the pro finds good CPE. That’s another discussion for another day.
The fact is, no other tax pros are required to get tax continuing education. In practice, most CPAs take tax continuing education too, but they aren’t required to. A CPA could get all of their CPE hours in accounting or other topics.
The IRS requires EAs to take 72 hours of CPE over a 3-year period (so 24 hours a year). The minimum we can take in any one year of that 3-year period is 16 hours.
Those of us who are members of the National Association of Enrolled Agents are required to take 30 hours of CPE in order to remain a member of NAEA.
Enrolled Agents have been around since 1884, we can help you if you’re in trouble with the IRS, we’re tested over the entirety of the tax code, and we’re the only pros required to take continuing education in taxes.
So if you’re looking for a tax professional, may I suggest the humble, unknown EA (hopefully a little less unknown after this blog series) as being a good choice for you.
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