Explore All Topics

What’s the Difference? Enrolled Agent vs. CPA

3 min read

3 min read

If you’re exploring hiring a professional to do your taxes, you may come across the terms enrolled agent (EA) or certified public accountant (CPA). You might know that both are designations for tax preparers, but when it comes to the details you could be asking, “enrolled agent vs. CPA—what’s the difference?”

To understand what differs in the role of EAs vs. CPAs, let’s first review how each is licensed. An enrolled agent is a tax practitioner who is licensed at the federal level by the Internal Revenue Service. In fact, enrolled agent status is the highest credential awarded by the IRS. On the other hand, certified public accountants are licensed by their applicable state boards of accountancy.

CPAs vs. EAs: How Are They Different?CPA vs enrolled agent

While both CPAs and EAs have expertise in taxes, the requirements to achieve these credentials differ. Although the exact criteria can vary by state or jurisdiction CPAs generally must complete studies in accounting at a college or university, meet experience requirements and pass the four-part Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination.

CPAs not only study tax issues, they also gain expertise in accounting matters such as financial planning and auditing. Although H&R Block does not provide public accounting services, we do have tax preparers who are CPAs who can prepare your tax return to get your maximum refund, guaranteed.

EAs must pass a three-part series of tests called the Special Enrollment Examination that covers individual and business tax laws and representation issues. The enrolled agent exam focuses mostly on tax preparation matters and very little on accounting practices.

EAs vs. CPAs: How Are They the Same?

Both enrolled agents and certified public accountants enjoy virtually unlimited practice rights before the IRS. That means there are no restrictions to the types of tax issues they can handle and the type of taxpayers they can serve.

Additionally, both tax professionals may represent tax clients before any type of IRS office. Lastly, EAs and CPAs are required to meet specific ethical and continuing education requirements.

CPAs and EAs at H&R Block

When you work with a tax pro at H&R Block, you can trust you have a professional in your court, dedicated to the highest standards of tax expertise and personal service. Whether you connect with a CPA or EA in one of our offices or through virtual tax preparation, you’ve got a tax expert focused on getting you your maximum refund.

Virtual Tax Expertise at H&R Block

Want to have a remote tax expert check the return you completed online? Find out more about H&R Block’s Tax Pro Review, which lets you prep your return online and have a CPA, EA or other tax professional check your work.

Or, you can leave your entire tax preparation and filing to a remote tax expert. Simply upload your documents and we’ll match you to the certified tax professional best suited to your needs. Learn more about H&R Block Virtual, which lets you sit back and relax while a CPA, EA or other tax professional takes care of your return.

Get started with H&R Block Virtual

Was this topic helpful?