The Internal Revenue Service announced that its special enrollment examination could be converted to a computer-based test as soon as this fall.

An enrolled agent has the privilege to practice before the IRS and has demonstrated special competence in tax matters. There are currently about 40,000 active enrolled agents, many of whom are attorneys and CPAs, who represent taxpayers in both examinations and collection matters. Besides passing the four-part examination, applicants must also undergo an additional background check before enrollment.

Nation-wide testing firm Thomson Prometric has been selected to develop and administer a computer-based version of the exam on behalf of the IRS, which is expected to be delivered in October 2006.

The examination will be offered at approximately 300 testing centers, compared to the 90 locations previously offered by the IRS.

Additional changes in administering the test include:

  • Candidates will have an eight-week window to take the examination;
  • Candidates will not be required to take all parts of the examination in one sitting;
  • Candidates who pass a portion of the exam will be allowed to carry over their scores; and,
  • Candidates will be permitted to take each part of the exam up to four times each calendar year.

As part of the process of exam development, Thomson will conduct a survey of enrolled agents to determine the tasks they perform and the knowledge needed to perform those tasks. The results of the survey will be the basis for developing examination content.The IRS will maintain oversight of the development process, and said that additional information will be posted at www.IRS.gov as it becomes available.

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