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CPA exam questions from expert author and award-winning professor Joe Hoyle

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Enrolled Agent vs. CPA

Which is right for you?

If you plan to focus your practice on tax you may want to consider a lesser known alternative to the CPA, and become an enrolled agent. The public perceives the CPA as "tax preparer" but many who enter the field of public accounting never touch a tax return. In fact, preparing taxes does not require a credential at all—anybody can do it.

So, what exactly is an enrolled agent? An enrolled agent demonstrates a special competency in tax matters by passing the enrolled agent exam. Enrolled agents are admitted to practice before the IRS allowing them to do anything a CPA or attorney can do on any matter before the IRS.

While this credential is not nearly as recognizable as the CPA, enrolled agents have been around since the late 1800's. The enrolled agent designation is the highest credential in the field of tax issued by the US Department of Treasury and the exam is far easier to pass.