Fans attending the Super Bowl this weekend may look up in the sky and see a cryptic message: “NAEA, America’s Tax Experts,” and “WhatisanEA.org.”

The plane pulling the banner was commissioned by the Arizona Society of Enrolled Agents with the goal of educating the public about the highest credential the Internal Revenue Service awards: the enrolled agent license.

The first flight will begin after 10:00 am MST on Friday, January 29, and fly-overs will continue on Saturday and Super Bowl Sunday. Members of the National Association of Enrolled Agents will be tweeting with hashtags such as #Superbowl, #Whatisanea, #NAEA, #Americastaxexpert, and will be posting to photos and videos to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram and YouTube.

Enrolled agents across the county are hoping that this year consumers looking for a tax preparer will be able to make an informed choice by better understanding preparer qualifications and credentials.

A 2011 survey commissioned by the NAEA found that 87 percent of consumers had never heard of an enrolled agent. Only enrolled agents, CPAs and attorneys may represent taxpayers before the IRS for audits, collections or appeals. Of the three groups, EAs are the only ones that specialize strictly in taxation. While CPAs and attorneys frequently specialize in other areas such as audits, divorce, etc., all EAs focus on tax preparation and representation.

“It amazes me every tax season that so many taxpayers have never heard of an enrolled agent,” said Jeff Augenstein, EA, of Northern Arizona Financial Services in Flagstaff and AzSEA president. “The EA license is earned by passing a three-part exam on taxation, or through relevant experience as an IRS employee. EAs are subject to a background check conducted by the IRS and must complete many hours of continuing education.”

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