George Kelly is an Enrolled Agent who specializes in small business structure strategies, proactive tax planning and representation of cases involving dilatory (late) tax filings, IRS collections, and penalty abatement. Additional practice specialties in ACA informational return preparation and tax-advantaged medical expense reimbursement plans. He is a graduate of Strayer University and is a member of the National Association of Enrolled Agents.
George Kelly, E.A.
What is an Enrolled Agent?
Enrolled agents are the only federally-licensed tax practitioners who specialize in taxation and have unlimited rights to represent taxpayers before the IRS. Individuals who obtain this elite status must adhere to ethical standards and enrolled agents, like attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs), have unlimited practice rights. This means they are unrestricted as to which taxpayers they can represent, what types of tax matters they can handle, and which IRS offices they can represent clients before. But unlike attorneys and CPAs, who may or may not choose to specialize in taxes, all enrolled agents specialize in taxation. CPAs and attorneys are licensed by the states, but enrolled agents are federally licensed. That means they are not limited to practicing in states from which they have received a license; they can practice anywhere in the United States.
What differentiates Enrolled Agents from tax preparers, attorneys and CPAs?
Only enrolled agents are required to demonstrate to the IRS their competence in all areas of taxation, representation and ethics before they are awarded unlimited representation rights to represent taxpayers before IRS. Unlike attorneys and CPAs, who are state-licensed and who may or may not choose to specialize in taxes, all enrolled agents specialize in taxation.
What are the key points to remember when hiring a tax professional?
Your tax needs are best served by an enrolled agent. However, no matter who you hire there are certain things to keep in mind.
- Always use a qualified professional to prepare your return.
- Preparers should always sign the returns and include their Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTINs).
- Beware of preparers who encourage you to lie or otherwise modify your information in order to get a bigger refund.
- The taxpayer is responsible for what’s on a tax return.
Reputable preparers will ask to see receipts and will ask multiple questions to determine whether expenses, deductions and other items qualify. By doing so, they are trying to help their clients avoid penalties, interest or additional taxes that could result from an IRS examination.
Privilege and the Enrolled Agent
The IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 provides federally-authorized practitioners (those bound by the Department of Treasury’s Circular 230 regulations) with a limited client privilege. This privilege allows confidentiality between the taxpayer and the enrolled agent under certain conditions. The privilege applies to situations in which the taxpayer is being represented in cases involving audits and collection matters. It is not applicable to the preparation and filing of a tax return. This privilege does not apply to state tax matters, although a number of states have an accountant-client privilege.