An enrolled agent is a federal authorized tax practitioner who represents the taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service. S/he is empowered by the US Department of the Treasury. This postion was created during the American Civil War to keep a tab on the fraudulent war loss.
In short, Enrolled Agents (EA's) are the only tested and licensed tax professional governed by the IRS. Below I cut and pasted the information from the NAEA (National Association of Enrolled Agents) www.Naea.org.
What is an Enrolled Agent?
An Enrolled Agent (EA) is a federally-authorized tax practitioner who has technical expertise in the field of taxation and who is empowered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before all administrative levels of the Internal Revenue Service for audits, collections, and appeals.
The best comparision is that a CPA is like a general Doctor handling more than just taxes, while a EA's are TAX experts and only practice and study in the field of taxes.
CPAs are licensed and regulated by each state. Enrolled Agents are licensed and regulated by the federal government (IRS). I perform similar duties to a CPA - specializing in tax matters and I can't attest to financial statements.
An enrolled agent is a person who has earned the privilege of practicing, that is, representing taxpayers, before the Internal Revenue Service. Enrolled agents, like attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs), are unrestricted as to which taxpayers they can represent, what types of tax matters they can handle, and which IRS offices they can practice before.
The enrolled agent is the only tax professional granted the right to practice directly from the United States Government. Attorneys, CPA's (Certified Public Accountants) have a state license, which limits the practice only to the states where they are licensed. An enrolled agent holds a federal license and has the right to represent any taxpayer in any state regarding federal tax matters. An enrolled agent is considered a tax specialist, which sets them apart from attorneys or CPA's. The enrolled agent capabilities extend far beyond just tax preparing, they handle audits, collections of deficiency in tax, also appeal matters.