U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Congressman Charles Boustany (R-LA-03) today introduced the Enrolled Agents Credential Act, legislation to ensure that individuals, families, and businesses across the country are able to identify and access trained specialists to assist them in filing their taxes. Enrolled Agents are tax specialists certified by the U.S. Department of Treasury (DOT) who have unlimited rights to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Despite being an exclusively federal credential, some states prohibit Enrolled Agents from using their credential when representing taxpayers or advertising for potential clients. This bill would clarify that Enrolled Agents may use and display their credential when advertising their services and representing their clients.
"Our antiquated tax code is a burden on Ohio families and businesses and oftentimes requires them to seek professional assistance to pore over the complex paperwork," said Portman. "This commonsense measure has no cost and will protect taxpayers and consumers by ensuring that those in need of help are able to receive quality care from qualified professionals."
"Families and businesses in South Louisiana rely on tax professionals to navigate them through the federal government's outdated and complex tax code," said Boustany. "Allowing qualified professionals to highlight their credentials will not only lead to taxpayers being served more efficiently, it provides an added resource for Americans to utilize while paying taxes. Best of all, this legislation does not add one dime to the nation's debt or deficit."
"This bill is helpful because in the last year or so, the federal government has begun to promote the use of licensed tax return preparers like enrolled agents, CPAs and lawyers and it's important that enrolled agents be able to use their credential to distinguish themselves from unlicensed preparers," said David Rothstein, Project Director at Policy Matters Ohio. "We support any legislation that helps Ohio taxpayers have access to tax return preparers who have shown competency through testing and continuing education and are subject to a strict code of ethics. Far too many families in Ohio and across the country receive inadequate and sometimes predatory preparation."
"Because of the complexity of the Internal Revenue Code and potential for abuse, Congress and the IRS should do everything they can to encourage the professionalization of the tax industry," said Michael Fioritto, President of the Ohio State Society of Enrolled Agents. "By interfering with enrolled agents' ability to advertise and brand themselves, a few states are hurting not only the enrolled agent profession but the consumers in those states who might utilize their services."
"As America's tax experts, enrolled agents represent millions of individual and small business taxpayers and are tested and licensed to practice by the Internal Revenue Service. NAEA is dedicated to helping enrolled agents maintain the highest level of knowledge, skills and professionalism in all areas of taxation, so that they may most effectively represent the needs of their clients," said Betsey Buckingham, President of the National Association of Enrolled Agents. "The Enrolled Agent Credential Protection Act will ensure that enrolled agents around the country will be able to refer to themselves as enrolled agents and EAs."
Unlike attorneys and Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), who are state-licensed and may or may not choose to specialize in taxes, all enrolled agents specialize in taxation. To join America's 47,000 enrolled agents, one must either pass a comprehensive tax code examination or have extensive experience interpreting the tax code as a former IRS employee. Enrolled Agents must also complete continuing education classes to stay current on tax changes.