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Source: Accountingweb

While the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015 made headlines before the holidays for permanently extending many popular tax incentives for businesses and individuals, you may have overlooked a provision in the bill that gives kudos to enrolled agents.

Under Section 410 of the PATH Act, Clarification of Enrolled Agent Credentials, enrolled agents now have the right to use the designation enrolled agent, EA, or E.A. in states whose laws have prevented them from using their credential when representing taxpayers or advertising for potential clients. For example, in North Carolina, non-CPAs including enrolled agents are considered accountants. Georgia, New York, and Ohio have similar laws.

We are thrilled that Congress has finally passed the Enrolled Agents Credential Act, Robert Kerr, senior director of government relations for the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA), said in a written statement. It has always been a head-scratcher that some states would not allow enrolled agents to use their designation even though their license is awarded and overseen by the US government! Given that enrolled agents hold a federal license to practice before the IRS, I’ve always found state positions to the contrary to be mystifying.

Now that many tax credits and deductions for individuals have been made permanent by the PATH Act, finally, families can meet with their enrolled agents to plan how best to reduce their tax burden over the next year without fearing that their planning may be for naught, solely at the whims of an unpredictable Congress, Kerr added.

Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) twice introduced the Enrolled Agents Credential Act in their respective chambers once in June 2013 and again in February 2015.

The IRS estimates Americans spend 6.6 billion hours per year filling out tax forms. The least the federal government can do is ensure that consumers have all the information available when choosing who to trust with their financial security  and that’s exactly what this common-sense measure does, Portman said in a written statement on Feb. 13, after introducing the bill.

Enrolled agents are federally licensed tax practitioners who specialize in taxation and have unlimited rights to represent taxpayers before the IRS, according to the NAEA, a not-for-profit organization that represents the roughly 49,000 enrolled agents worldwide. Enrolled agent status is the highest credential awarded by the IRS.

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