Grimbleby Coleman Accountant Becky Austin was recently awarded her Enrolled Agent Status from the National Association of Enrolled Agents. Becky took a moment out of her busy tax season duties to answer a few of our questions about her new designation and what it means to clients.
Becky, what is an Enrolled Agent, and what makes them different from other tax preparers?
Enrolled Agents are equipped to advise, represent, and prepare tax returns for individuals, partnerships, corporations, estates, trusts, and any entities with tax-reporting requirements. Unlike other tax preparers, Enrolled Agents must fulfill continuing professional education requirements that exceed the IRS’ required minimum. This continued learning ensures they can effectively represent taxpayers audited by the IRS in lieu of continually changing tax laws.
How long have you been dabbling in taxes and tax code? What do you enjoy about it?
I have been involved with taxes for the past 20+ years in both the private and public sectors. Thoroughly knowing the tax code is a benefit I can offer our clients. I can help them by being aware of how changes will impact their filings and what possible tax credits they are not currently taking advantage of.
What are the top reasons companies and individuals seek the assistance of Enrolled Agents?
There are two unique benefits to using an Enrolled Agent:
- Emphasis on ethics – Our principal focus is honest, intelligent and ethical representation of taxpayers before the governmental agencies. Enrolled Agents adhere to a stringent Code of Ethics and Rules of Professional Conduct of the Association, as well as the Treasury Department’s Circular 230 regulations. In addition, we belong to a strong network of experienced, well-trained tax professionals who work to make the tax code fair and reasonably enforced.
- Proof of Expertise – Enrolled Agents are required to demonstrate their competence in matters of taxation before they may represent a taxpayer before the IRS. Unlike attorneys and CPAs, who may or may not choose to specialize in taxes, all enrolled agents specialize in taxation. In addition, Enrolled Agents are the only taxpayer representatives who receive their right to practice from the U.S. government (CPAs and attorneys are licensed by the states).
We all know what you’re doing January through April 15: tax prep, tax prep, and more tax prep! But what services can an EA offer in the other 8.5 months out of the year?
While tax prep is mainly completed during January through April 15th, an Enrolled Agent is busy throughout the year in advising clients on tax law changes, preparing tax returns that were placed on extension past the April 15th deadline, representing client before the IRS, and offering tax planning services to their clients.
What do you find most rewarding about helping companies and individuals with their tax concerns and preparations?
It is always personally and professionally rewarding when you can help a client through a troubling time of receiving a letter from the IRS or simply by preparing tax returns for business and individuals knowing they have confidence in your professional ability.
Learn more about the Enrolled Agent designation at www.naea.org