EAs Meet Lawmakers on Credential, Oversight, Extenders

EAs Meet Lawmakers on Credentials, Oversight, Extenders

Washington, D.C. (May 22, 2015)

By Jeff Stimpson

More than 100 Enrolled Agents recently met with representatives and senators to discuss issues of importance to them, including bills to allow EAs to officially use their designation nationwide.

The meetings, part of the National Association of Enrolled Agents’ annual Fly-In Day, drew 109 EAs to discuss congressional bills to smooth EAs’ ability to present their credentials, as well as the IRS authority to oversee tax preparers and the permanent status of various tax extender provisions.

Enrolled Agent Credential Act

The bills (H.R. 828 and S. 422) would allow EAs to use and display the credential when advertising services and representing clients. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., introduced the bills earlier this year.

Some states, notably North Carolina, prohibit EAs from calling themselves by their federally-granted title.

The Enrolled Agents Credential Act, is steadily gaining momentum and support in Washington, according to Jeffrey A. Schneider, an EA in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and past chapter president and national director with the NAEA. The proposal recently came out of the House Ways and Means Committee with no opposition, Schneider said, and attracted a number of new co-sponsors in Congress.

Schneider, who added that this year’s NAEA group was the largest ever, met with Rep. Gwen Graham, representatives of Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson, and Rep. Patrick Murphy.

Schneider has attended four Fly-In Days; this was his third meeting with Sen. Rubio’s representative. “The first two times, we were going through tax reform. This time the shield fell and he really seemed to understand the importance of the issue.”

The representative from Sen. Rubio’s office was to confer with his counterpart in Sen. Portman’s office and Rep. Graham was going to reach out to Rep. Boustany, Schneider added.

Lawmakers, like the public in general, often need education on EAs’ role in tax prep. “Rep. Murphy’s representative understood and hopefully Rep. Murphy (as with all of the members of Congress) will get behind the proposal,” said Schneider, noting that Rep. Murphy is an accountant by past profession.

Oversight and Extenders

Fly-In participants also met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill concerning IRS oversight of preparers and affixing some permanent status to a number of often-extended tax breaks.

“Right now the IRS has no authority to regulate tax preparers,” Schneider said. “We’re trying to point out that that’s ridiculous.”

“We look to get the EACA passed very quickly; it’s bipartisan and a one-page bill,” Schneider added. “IRS oversight of preparers has more of an uphill battle.”

Some four dozen tax provisions expired in 2014. Lawmakers extend provisions unpredictably, greatly complicating tax planning and advice-giving on that planning, according to Schneider. “We just want to tell lawmakers to make them permanent or take them off the books permanently,” he said.

Streamlining the extenders faces the toughest political fight of all: “Many people are running for new and open seats this year,” Schneider said, “often on a platform of tax reform.”

To learn more about the NAEA Fly-In Day, contact Robert Kerr, senior director of government relations, or Gigi Jarvis, senior director of public relations for the NAEA, at (855) 880-6232 or (202) 822-6232.