When it comes to your money and finances, nobody wants to pay more taxes to Uncle Sam. That’s why now is a critical time to check up on your tax health, with the end of the year approaching and Congress considering an overhaul of the nation’s tax code.
One of the ways you can assess your tax situation is through the help of an agent. James Adelman is an agent in Tulsa and the president of the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA). He spoke to RewardExpert about how working with an enrolled agent can benefit you.
Planning for the Future
“NAEA keeps enrolled agents on the cutting edge of what is happening in the tax world to enable them to help their clients minimize their tax liability and plan effectively for the future. I would encourage all taxpayers to meet with an enrolled agent before the end of the year to determine if there are active steps they should take now to minimize their tax bite and to ensure they are well prepared in advance of the next filing deadline,” said Adelman.
What is an Enrolled Agent?
The term enrolled agent (EA) may not be familiar to most Americans. However, enrolled agents have a long history of helping individuals and businesses save a lot of money on their taxes.
“The enrolled agent profession dates back to 1884 when, after questionable claims had been presented for Civil War losses, Congress acted to regulate persons who represented citizens in their dealings with the U.S. Treasury Department. The scope of the enrolled agent was expanded in 1913 as the first income tax law became effective, allowing EAs to represent clients seeking monetary relief from taxes deemed inequitable,” explained Adelman.
The National Association of Enrolled Agents was founded in 1972 and has nearly 11,000 members, working to promote the tax skills that enrolled agents possess. The NAEA also offers some of the most advanced tax education available including in-depth training on handling IRS disputes.
“Enrolled agents are the only federally-licensed tax practitioners who specialize in taxation and have unlimited rights to represent taxpayers before the IRS,” stated Adelman. In fact, the education requirements are so rigid–72 hours of continuing education required every three years–that there are only 52,000 enrolled agents in the entire country.
What Services Does an Enrolled Agent Provide?
It is up to the individual taxpayer or business to decide whether to use the services of an enrolled agent. “Enrolled agents are authorized to advise, represent, and prepare tax returns for individuals, partnerships, corporations, estates, trusts, and any entities with tax-reporting requirements,” said Adelman. He adds that while taxpayers can certainly use software or file by themselves, they run the risk of potential legal pitfalls, especially if facing an audit.
Adelman also pointed out that by using an enrolled agent, you can be 100% sure that your tax return is prepared correctly, allowing you to take advantage of all sorts of savings in the tax code. “Taking advantage of all credits, deductions, etc. makes filing a properly prepared tax return imperative to the financial health of our citizens,” he said.
A Helping Hand with Taxes
While tax reform remains uncertain, there is no doubt that the enrolled agents will be there to guide taxpayers no matter what happens in Washington. Adelman stated, “The hope is that tax reform will save people money and make it easier for them to file their taxes.” To make it easier for you to file your taxes and save more money, check out eatax.org. That’s where NAEA maintains a free online directory, which enables taxpayers to find qualified enrolled agents based on their areas of specialization and/or location.