Ellevest’s tax pros include enrolled agents (EAs) and certified public accountants (CPAs).
Both EAs and CPAs are qualified (at the federal and the state level, respectively) to handle all types of questions about tax matters — and are required to meet specific ethical and continuing education requirements. The main difference is that while both EAs and CPAs have expertise in taxes, CPAs also have accounting expertise.
What is an enrolled agent?
An enrolled agent, or EA, is a federally accredited tax professional. EAs are legally allowed to represent taxpayers in all kinds of matters that have to do with US taxes and the IRS. Enrolled agent status is the highest credential the IRS awards. EAs earn the status by passing a three-part test given by the IRS called the Special Enrollment Exam (or have experience as an IRS employee). In addition to the exam, EAs must complete continuing education each year (totaling 72 hours every three years) to stay up-to-date on US taxes.
Enrolled agents are qualified to discuss individual and business taxes. As such, they're able to represent any US taxpayer in any area — this means they have "unlimited practice rights". You can learn more here.
How is an enrolled agent different from a CPA?
Enrolled agents and certified public accountants, or CPAs, can both advise on and file taxes, and both have unlimited practice rights regarding the types of tax issues they can handle and the kind of taxpayers they can serve. However, the primary difference between the two is that CPAs have accounting expertise and this isn’t required for enrolled agents. CPAs tend to help clients with things like bookkeeping and auditing, and are licensed at the state level. EAs are accredited by the IRS at the federal level and tend to help clients with things like tax preparation and planning, and resolving tax issues.
What kinds of questions can a tax pro answer?
Here are some examples of questions someone might ask an enrolled agent or CPA:
- What tax deductions and credits am I eligible for, and how can I maximize them?
- Can you help me understand the tax implications of various investment options or financial decisions?
- Can you help me with tax planning to reduce my tax liability for the coming year?
- Can you advise me on estate planning and inheritance tax issues?
- Do I need to report income from sources like freelance work, rental properties, or investments?