Long History of the Enrolled Agent – Expanded Role of the Enrolled Agent

Long History of the Enrolled Agent

It was at this 1973 convention that Vice President Lee Wurst shared the research he had uncovered on the long history of the enrolled agent. Enrolled agents were first recognized on July 7, 1884 by an Act of Congress signed into law by President Chester A. Arthur, which came about due to fraudulent war loss claims following the Civil War. The “Enabling Act” or “Horse Act of 1884,” which stipulated that enrollment was governed by a committee on enrollment and disbarment, was meant to ensure that enrolled “agents, attorneys, or other persons representing claimants” could help settle claims associated with property the government had seized for use in the Civil War.

Expanded Role of the Enrolled Agent

In 1913, the first income tax law became effective with the ratification of the 16th Amendment by President Woodrow Wilson. The scope of the enrolled agent was expanded to include claims for monetary relief for citizens whose taxes had become inequitable. As income, estate, gift, and other sources of taxes became more complex, the role of enrolled agent grew to include preparation of the many required tax forms. Audits increased and the enrolled agent role evolved to include taxpayer representation, resulting in a series of statutes that were combined in 1941 into a single Treasury Department Circular. Circular 230 replaced the Enabling Act and marked the first publication to specify the rules and regulations that governed procedure, practice, and enrollment. Enrolled agents, Circular 230 practitioners, are federally authorized tax practitioners empowered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for tax issues including audits, collections, and appeals. (Lawyers and CPAs are licensed by states, whereas enrolled agents can practice in all 50 states.) Enrolled agent status is the highest credential awarded by the IRS, secured by passing a three-part Special Enrollment Exam or through previous experience at the IRS.