Enrolled Agent Exam Structure 2024: A Complete Guide

Introduction

For decades, a commerce background has been associated with mediocrity. However, contrary to popular belief, commerce students are highly focused and goal-oriented. Most students, if not all, know exactly what they want. One of the most sought-after careers among commerce students today is Enrolled Agent (EA).  Read below for all the essential information you need to know to become an EA, including the EA exam structure.

Why become an EA?

While the list of reasons to become an EA is endless, let's discuss a few of the most apparent reasons why one should become an EA:
  • An Enrolled Agent has 100% representation rights for all tax matters, like tax consultations with clients, helping businesses reduce tax liabilities and maximize savings, and even representing clients in front of the IRS in various tax-related issues.
  • The EA exams do not require an extensive educational background to pass. The eligibility criteria for the EA exam only mandate that students have a senior secondary education before enrolling.
  • The design of the EA exam structure enables students to effortlessly acquire knowledge on all tax-related topics, thereby transforming them into experts. It has an easy-to-pass, 100% objective examination pattern.
  • EAs are highly sought-after professionals in the taxation field, and they earn handsome salaries right from the start of their careers. The starting salary for a fresher EA ranges between six and eight lakhs, while an experienced EA can earn anywhere around INR 15 lakhs with added benefits and hikes.

US EA Exam Structure
The US EA exam structure judiciously divides into three distinct levels. Each level represents a completely different yet equally crucial dimension of the nation's tax and taxation practices concerning the prevailing taxation laws. This clear division ensures that students gain a deep knowledge of all the different tax practices and taxation laws while only focusing on one segment at a time. The fact that they only study one segment at a time helps them avoid confusion and assists them in getting a firm grip on each.
 
Given the nation's size, such a division of the EA exam structure was also crucial. US EAs have a 100% right to practice nationwide without restriction or need for specific authorization from individual states. While the basis of the taxation law is similar throughout the nation, each state has its own unique tax practices and rules, which often cause confusion, leading to non-compliance, making it non-negotiable that the EAs have a deep knowledge of all such differences.
 

Part 1: Individual level

Part one of the EA exam structure comprises various rules and regulations regarding individual taxation laws. Taxes relating to individuals used to be easy and straightforward in the past decades; however, they have become complicated, especially during the past few years. Now, individuals have various income sources and diverse investment portfolios, making tax calculation and reporting difficult. Therefore, this part focuses on understanding the rules related to individual taxation while training the students to handle it in the real world.
 

Part 2: Business level

The second part of the US EA exam structure consists of the various aspects of business and taxation. Tax calculation and payment are not just legal compliance for businesses; they are also crucial for minimizing costs and maximizing profits. Therefore, while doing taxes for business, EAs are required to take advantage of the various grants and schemes provided by the government to reduce their client's tax liability within the legal bounds.
 

Part 3: Representation, Practices, and Procedures

The IRS is the designated authority that deals with tax and taxation laws. The IRS, as a quasi-judicial body, adheres to its own set of protocols during appeals and beyond. As US EA is an authorized representative of its clients with the right to appear in front of the IRS, they must be well-versed in all representation practices and procedures. Therefore, the EA exam structure has a dedicated third part to train the US EA students in this aspect.
 

Things to Consider About the US EA Examination

For students who are planning or preparing to become an EA, it is crucial to look into the following factors related to the Enrolled Agent exam structure as well:
 

EA Exam Eligibility:

The eligibility criteria for the EA degree are simple and straightforward. All a student needs is a senior secondary certificate to qualify to enrolling in the EA course. Further, to be eligible for sitting in the SEE examination, an aspirant requires a valid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Students can obtain a valid PTIN from the IRS, pay the prescribed fee, and renew their PTIN annually thereafter.
 

EA Exam Window:

The EA exam window is open most of the year and only shuts down for two months, March and April. So, students can appear for the exam anytime between May 1 and February 28. The exams are held at certain pre-decided Prometric Testing Centers set throughout the United States and internationally to allow students easy access to the testing centers. 
 

EA Exam Dates:

The EA Exam does not have a specific date, but it is available for six days a week, Monday through Saturday, during ten of the year's twelve months.

 

EA Exam Pattern

The US EA exam pattern is simple and convenient for students. All three exams are 100% objective, totaling 130 marks, and to qualify, students must attain a minimum score of 105 in each. The EA exam pattern also gives students the flexibility to select among the levels, depending on their level of preparation. 
So, students can take the three exams in any sequence they prefer; the only catch is that once they have cleared the first exam, they now have a two-year window to clear the rest. However, even here, the students have a lifeline of opportunities, as they can take the examination up to four times within that window.
 

EA Exam Cost

Three categories comprise the cost of the US EA exam: PTIN fees, examination fees, and overall coaching and training fees. The PTIN fee for an EA student is around $70, with a $200 examination fee per exam. This brings the total to $670 for PTIN and examination fees. Upon adding the coaching and training fees, the cost of the US EA exam ranges from INR 150,000 to INR 200,000.

FAQs

1. How many exams are there in EA?

  1. There are three exams in the US EA exam structure, one for each level. You must clear the remaining two exams within two years of clearing the first level.

2. How many tests are in the EA exam?

  1. The complete US EA exam structure consists of three tests, or three examinations. The first is the individual level, followed by the business level, and finally the representation, practices, and procedures level.

3. What is the exam pattern for Enrolled Agents?

  1. All three exams of the EA paper are 100% objective, totaling 130 marks; to qualify, students must attain a minimum score of 105 in each.

Conclusion

EA courses are in huge demand in India and abroad. Becoming an EA gives students opportunities to work globally in the taxation field. However, getting into this career may not be as easy as students would like to imagine. As the profession allows 100% representation in the field of tax and taxation laws, the US EA exam structure is somewhat comprehensive and rigorous. Three parts divide the course, each focusing on a distinct aspect of taxation laws and practices.
To clear the US EA three-level examination, students must show dedication and perseverance. Students should also be on their toes with continuous practice and revisions. However, without proper support and counseling, experienced teachers, and quality study material, all their efforts will be in vain. Do not let all your hard work go to waste. Join NorthStar Academy to realize your professional dream of becoming an EA within 9 months. At NorthStar Academy, you get access to the best study material while learning from the industry's top experts. 


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