Choosing the right tax professional for your small business is an important decision. Understanding the difference between an EA and a CPA can help you make the best choice for your needs.
The IRS licenses an EA to represent clients before the agency regarding tax disputes, discrepancies, and appeals. They specialize in preparing individual and business tax returns and can provide several other accounting services.
Education and Licensing Requirements
The CPA and the EA credentials can open doors to lucrative careers in the accounting industry. But both credentials require a significant investment in time and money. Before pursuing either certification, candidates should carefully weigh all factors. Surgent offers quality study materials for the CPA and EA exams to help candidates choose the best career path.
The EA credential enables tax professionals to represent clients in audits, collections, and appeals before the IRS. This credential can also expand a professional’s career options by allowing them to provide specialized tax services.
To become an EA, one must pass all three parts of the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE). This exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions. Test-takers receive a performance score of 40-104, along with diagnostic information. The EA credential is only awarded to individuals who demonstrate proficiency in all areas of taxation and representation, including ethics.
What is the difference between EA and CPA? While both professionals must pass the Special Enrollment Examination, the qualification process for becoming an EA differs from that of a CPA. Those who pursue the EA credential must complete a three-part exam that covers federal tax laws and representation issues for individual and business returns, including specialized returns.
The CPA exam, on the other hand, requires four parts and covers a much broader range of topics. The section of the exam that’s equivalent to the EA test is Regulation (REG), and only about 70% of the REG content directly relates to the EA qualification.
Ultimately, it’s up to you and the type of career you envision for yourself to decide whether an EA or CPA certification is a better fit. But regardless of which route you choose, Surgent can help you prepare for the exam and kickstart your accounting career. Learn more about our comprehensive CPA and EA review courses today!
Continuing Education Requirements
To remain licensed as EAs, tax professionals must complete 72 hours of continuing education courses every three years. This requirement is designed to help them stay updated on the latest tax law and practice changes.
The right CE course for an EA should provide them with comprehensive and up-to-date material that addresses the unique challenges they face in their work. It should also offer flexibility and a platform that fits their learning style and schedule. Fast Forward Academy EA Review provides an innovative learning approach that optimizes study time with a targeted course format.
CPAs and EAs can add value to individuals and businesses needing assistance with tax-related issues. The decision to become an EA or a CPA depends on your career goals and what kind of expertise you need. If you want to specialize in taxation, the EA credential is an excellent choice because it requires fewer qualifications than becoming a CPA.
EAs can help clients with various tax matters, including filing and planning. They can assist with audits and collections and help businesses establish bookkeeping systems. Some EAs are former IRS employees with extensive knowledge of the agency’s policies and procedures.
In contrast, CPAs can perform audits and other financial analyses for individuals, businesses, and organizations. They can also provide financial advice and strategies for making critical decisions such as home purchases, college savings, business startup, and retirement planning.
Both careers require specialized accounting skills. Candidates can choose whichever one better suits their career goals and personal life. Fortunately, the two paths share much in common. Both require passing the Special Enrollment Exam (SEE) and meeting experience and education requirements. Surgent offers comprehensive study materials for the SEE, so test-takers can gain valuable insight into how to best prepare for the exam. The content of the SEE covers a wide range of subjects, but the taxation section is particularly challenging for many candidates.
Arman Ali, respects both business and technology. He enjoys writing about new business and technical developments. He has previously written content for numerous SaaS and IT organizations. He also enjoys reading about emerging technical trends and advances.