History Of Enrolled Agents

Can my new jet ski count as a work vehicle if I use it during the week?

Ah, the illusive write-off. What qualifies, what doesnt? Whats considered being creative, and whats just plain deceitful?

Were not the first to ask this question in regard to taxes and claims. (Warning: History content approaching!) Way back in the 1800s, during the Civil War, many people had horses and other property confiscated for the war effort an inconvenience, to say the least. After the war was over, however, citizens were allowed to file claims with the government to regain the value of their lost property. And thats when things got interesting.

Suddenly, the U.S. Treasury was overwhelmed with chancy post-war claims. Mr. Thompsons seventeen-year-old mare, Bessie (whod had one foot in the glue factory before her wartime services were required) became, after a bit of creative paperwork, a two-year-old thoroughbred in perfect health Nay! A show horse! worth hundreds of dollars. Mr. Jones rusty iron pots were transformed, on paper, to priceless heirloom silver. And Mr. Smiths five-foot-long rowboat was actually, as it turns out, a fifty-foot yacht of incalculable value. Interestingly, the government received more claims for lost horses and property than the amount that had actually been confiscated.

Of course, this influx of dubious claims made it difficult for honest citizens to make claims on their own lost property. How were legitimate claims to be recognized as such, when hundreds of Mr. Thompson-like claims demanding thoroughbreds were being placed right alongside them?

Enter the Enabling Act of 1884. This act gave the Secretary of Treasury authority to regulate the admission of agents who represented claimants, thus endowing persons who passed a standardized test and credibility check with the power of advocacy, to seek equitable justice for the citizenry. The people who passed these requirements were called Enrolled Agents.

Skip forward a few years to 1913, when income tax was passed. With tax laws becoming increasingly complex, the job of the Enrolled Agent was expanded to match. Responsibilities now included monetary relief claims for those with inequitable taxes, as well as the preparation of the required tax forms. And later, when audits became more prevalent, the role of the EA evolved into taxpayer advocacy, negotiating with the IRS on behalf of clients. And in 1972 when citizens had completely abandoned their once-inestimable horses in lieu of disco balls and Chevrolets EAs united to form the National Association of Enrolled Agents, to represent the needs and rights of taxpayers.

Today, EAs are an integral part of the tax system, working with citizens and the IRS. Dealing with much more than write-offs (and in case you were still wondering no, your jet ski probably does NOT, unfortunately, count as a work vehicle), EAs have, through their national association and state affiliates, successfully defended their rights to practice, furthering beneficial legislation and administrative rules for both tax practitioners and ordinary citizens.

Those interested in launching into this exiting field must either possess 5 years of technical experience working for the IRS or pass a three-part IRS test, known as the enrolled agent exam (officially called the Special Enrollment Exam or SEE). Prometric administers the SEE test. Prometric tests for the EA exam will begin on May 1. The EA exam is not easy if you do not have a solid background in taxation. Before you scour the internet in search of the best enrolled agent study guide on the planet, you may want to take a simulated EA practice test to see if you are ready to pass the EA exam.

About the Author:
Rain Hughes is the co-founder of Fast Forward Academy, a leading publisher of IRS ea exam study guides, enrolled agent exam review courses and continuing education for all tax professionals.


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