KYB sheds light on Continuing Education for experts and professionals. Education is an important part of shaping the lives of our future leaders and innovators as well as keeping our experts on top of their fields.
Many state and federal agencies require a certain amount of continuing education credits (Ce's) each year for accounting and tax professionals. See below for the low down on CPAs vs. EA's and what if any CE's they are required to complete.
A Certified Public Accountant better known as a CPA is most traditionally known as a tax professional. A CPA license is a state license and they do more things like attest financial statements, etc.
A CPA's bread and butter tends to be performing tax, accounting and financial services to businesses. Most states/jurisdictions require at least a bachelor's degree, two years public accounting experience and a passing score on the CPA exam to obtain a license. The IRS does not require attorneys and certified public accountants to complete continuing education credits. However, since 2013 the IRS has required tax preparers to pass a tax exam and have 15 hours of CE's a year!
EA's must meet more stringent requirements. Because the requirements are so challenging, there are fewer than 50,000 IRS Enrolled Agents in the entire country. (In contrast, the American Institute of CPAs has nearly 400,000 members.)
An Enrolled Agent (EA) has a federal license and is a person who has earned the privilege of representing taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service by either passing a three-part comprehensive IRS test covering individual and business tax returns, or through experience as a former IRS employee.
In addition to an IRS-administered testing and application process, enrolled agents must complete at least 72 hours of continuing education every three years.
Enrolled agents, like attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs), have unlimited practice rights. This means they are unrestricted as to which taxpayers they can represent, what types of tax matters they can handle, and which IRS offices they can represent clients before.
Bill Gates comments about education in general in a TED Talk a few years ago, "We have to be careful because Malaria the parasite evolves and the mosquito evolves, so every tool that we've ever had in the past has eventually become ineffective...Well now let me turn to a second [topic]...but I'd say equally important and this is how do you make a teacher great?" The answer he goes on to point out us we don't !
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