Bill Would Let EAs Promote Themselves Everywhere

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., have introduced legislation aimed at allowing Enrolled Agents to present themselves as such and tout their credential wherever they practice.

This will “ensure that individuals, families, and businesses across the country are able to identify and access EAs,” the co-sponsors said in a statement.

The representatives said that their Enrolled Agents Credential Act or H.R. 2313 is aimed at those states that “prohibit Enrolled Agents from using their credential when representing taxpayers or advertising for potential clients. This bill would clarify that Enrolled Agents may use and display their credential when advertising their services and representing their clients.”

In statements, both Portman and Boustany stressed that access to EAs -- who are certified by the U.S. Department of Treasury and have unlimited rights to represent taxpayers before the IRS -- is increasingly essential as taxpayers struggle to comply with an “antiquated” and “outdated and complex” Tax Code.

“This bill is helpful because in the last year or so, the federal government has begun to promote the use of licensed tax return preparers like Enrolled Agents, CPAs and lawyers, and it’s important that Enrolled Agents be able to use their credential to distinguish themselves from unlicensed preparers,” added David Rothstein, project director at Policy Matters Ohio, in a statement on Boustany’s Web site. 

“Congress and the IRS should do everything they can to encourage the professionalization of the tax industry,” added Michael Fioritto, president of the Ohio State Society of EAs, in the same statement. “By interfering with Enrolled Agents’ ability to advertise and brand themselves, a few states are hurting not only the Enrolled Agent profession but the consumers in those states who might utilize their services.”

The National Association of Enrolled Agents has long supported the “bipartisan” bill, and pointed out in an open letter to all EAs that Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., “has agreed to jump on board with Dr. Boustany and co-sponsor H.R. 2313. In addition, Representatives Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., are also original co-sponsors of H.R. 2313.”

“EAs in several states have been significantly limited in the use of their federal credential. The codification would level the playing field for Enrolled Agents in those states,” said NAEA president Betsey Buckingham.

“EAs, who have an unlimited right to prepare tax returns and to represent taxpayers in advocacy issues with IRS, believe it isn’t unreasonable to use their federally given designation,” added Robert Kerr, NAEA senior director of government relations. “The proposed legislation, which NAEA has been promoting for years, helps Enrolled Agents market themselves and to distinguish themselves from the legion of untested and unlicensed fly-by-night preparers.” 

Unlike attorneys and CPAs, who are state-licensed and may or may not choose to specialize in taxes, all EAs specialize in taxation. There are some 47,000 EAs in the U.S.

“The legislation has been a priority of NAEA leadership, which has charged the GR team with doing everything it can to garner Congressional interest,” Buckingham wrote in her letter. She called the bill “simple -- a one-pager and at no cost to taxpayers.”

She noted too that the organization has brought members to Washington to advocate for the bill, and her letter added tips on what EAs can do to voice their support to Congress.

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