CPA or EA Agent advice

5 Replies

Hey BPer's,

I was just looking into accountants and i came across EA agents and CPA.  I believe both are accountants and offer up general accountant functions BUT I believe the EA agents is more up to date on state laws and can represent me in front of the IRS. 

My questions are:

1. which is the better option to realistically to have ?

2. is the pricing difference worth the quality of work ?

Any tips or pointers or info I am missing is accepted, please and thank you in advance !!!

Hi Maxwell,

At the end of the day, the person's individual level of experience and expertise is what is important, more than the professional license.  However, if I was picking just based on the license I would go with a CPA every time (admittedly I am biased).

The education and experience required to become a CPA is a lot higher than to become an EA.  That means that, everything else being even, a CPA is more likely to be able to give you better advice.

Attorneys, CPAs, and EAs are allowed to represent you in front of the IRS.  Attorneys and CPAs are allowed to perform additional functions that may or may not be of worth to you.

Yes, the pricing difference is worth the increased quality of the work.  Mistakes and poor advice can cost you far more money than a fee difference.

Also admittedly biased, but I will go with @Brian Schmelzlen 's advice as well.

Enrolled Agents are heavy into tax.  Prep, theory, planning, etc - they eat, sleep, live and breathe taxation.

CPAs are also heavy into tax, but we are also required to be experts in Accounting (Theory, Principles), Business Law and Audit (less useful for most folks).  The more general rounding in all 4 areas can give us a bit of an advantage over an EA.

However, a good EA, like @Steven Hamilton II is worth his weight in gold.

Both designations have training in state taxation and both can represent you in front of the IRS/Tax Court in the event you are required to do so.

Thank you so much Ms. @Linda Weygant and Mr. @Brian Schmelzlen for your inputs, that honestly was very good to hear. I genuienly appreciate you both for sharing your knowledge with me. 

I was very lost on this area and I now know which path to further research. 


That's a great question. I would second the advice to go with experience and expertise over credentials.

A little more information about Enrolled Agents: we get our credentials directly from the IRS and are federally licensed meaning we can practice in every state. And while it's true that we do not have the bachelors degree requirement, we specialize in taxes. Many CPAs don't handle taxes, but instead focus on audits or internal accounting functions. When you talk with an Enrolled Agent, you know you're talking to someone who handles taxation.

My advice would be to talk with experienced investors in your area to find an accountant who regularly works with real state investors. And be careful when shopping by price alone. A good accountant can save you far more than they cost you!

I am an enrolled agent and a CPA.

This is what I needed to obtain both titles

Enrolled Agent
Complete 3 exams on Individual Taxation, Business Taxation, and Representation, Practices and Procedures.
Complete 72 hours of continuing education every 3 years.

CPA(New York)
Obtain a Bachelor Degree
Have 150+ college credits with 33 in accounting classes
complete 4 exams on Regulation(tax and law), auditing & Attestation, Financial Accounting and reporting and Business Environment and Concepts
1 Year of experience under a CPA
40 hours of continuing education every year

With that said - you should definitely reach out to an accountant who fits your needs.

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