Can an Enrolled Agent Own a CPA Firm? Exploring the Possibilities

Can an Enrolled Agent own a CPA firm? It’s a question that’s been asked time and time again, yet the answer remains unclear to many. Some say it’s possible, while others argue that it’s not. However, in recent years, there’s been a growing interest in the topic, as people begin to explore new opportunities in the world of accounting. With the industry constantly evolving and expanding, it’s no surprise that many professionals are looking for ways to make their mark, and ownership of a CPA firm is a path some are considering.

As an Enrolled Agent, you likely have a deep understanding of tax law and accounting principles. But can that knowledge and expertise be turned into ownership of a CPA firm? It’s a complex question with no easy answer. The rules and regulations surrounding CPA firm ownership can vary depending on where you live and work, as well as your level of education and experience. However, in order to make an informed decision, it’s important to understand the factors involved and what options may be available to you.

Ultimately, the decision to pursue ownership of a CPA firm as an Enrolled Agent will depend on your individual goals and aspirations. Some may find that it’s the perfect career move, while others may prefer to explore alternative paths within the accounting industry. Whatever your choice may be, it’s important to stay informed and up-to-date on the latest developments in this complex field. Whether you’re just starting out or have been in the industry for years, there’s no doubt that owning a CPA firm is a worthy accomplishment, one that requires a great deal of hard work and dedication.

Differences in Job Roles between Enrolled Agents and CPAs

Enrolled Agents (EAs) and Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are two professionals in the tax industry. Although their roles may overlap in some aspects, they perform quite different tasks and have different qualifications. Here are the key differences in job roles between EAs and CPAs:

  • Educational requirements: To become an EA, one must pass a three-part IRS exam that covers individual and business tax returns. On the other hand, a person must earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting before they can sit for the CPA exam. CPAs also need to have completed 150 college credit hours that cover general education and business-related topics.
  • License: EAs receive a license from the IRS, while CPAs obtain their license from state boards of accountancy. CPAs also need to meet the state-specific experience and education requirements.
  • Scope of practice: EAs can represent taxpayers before the IRS for audits, collections, and appeals. They can also provide tax preparation services and tax planning advice. CPAs, in addition to offering tax services, can provide services such as auditing, financial planning, and business consulting.
  • Job opportunities: EAs can work for themselves or for a tax preparation firm. CPAs, on the other hand, have a broad range of job opportunities and can work as accountants in a public or private practice, financial managers, tax professionals, or even in executive financial positions in a company.

In summary, the significant differences in job roles between EAs and CPAs include their educational requirements, licensing, scope of practice, and job opportunities. Both professions are highly specialized and in-demand, and clients may choose which one to hire based on their specific needs.

State Licensing Requirements for CPA Firms

One of the most important aspects to consider for an Enrolled Agent (EA) who wants to own a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) firm is the state licensing requirements for CPA firms. Each state has its own set of rules and requirements for the licensing of CPA firms.

Here are some key things to know about state licensing requirements for CPA firms:

  • First and foremost, only licensed CPAs can own a CPA firm in most states. This means that an EA cannot legally own a CPA firm without being a licensed CPA first.
  • Some states allow non-CPAs to own an interest in a CPA firm, but the majority require that the controlling interest (51% or more) be owned by licensed CPAs.
  • State licensing boards often require CPA firms to have a designated CPA owner who is responsible for the overall management and oversight of the firm.

The Licensing Process for CPA Firms

If an EA wants to become a licensed CPA and own a CPA firm, they need to go through the licensing process as outlined by their state’s licensing board. Here are some general steps for the licensing process:

  • Educational Requirements: The first step is to meet the educational requirements for becoming a licensed CPA. This typically involves obtaining a bachelor’s degree in accounting and completing a certain number of hours of coursework in accounting and related subjects.
  • Examination Requirements: After meeting the educational requirements, the next step is to pass the Uniform CPA Examination. This is a rigorous, four-part examination that covers auditing and attestation, business environment and concepts, financial accounting and reporting, and regulation.
  • Experience Requirements: Once an individual has passed the CPA exam, they must meet the experience requirements for licensing. This typically involves working for a certain number of hours under the supervision of a licensed CPA.
  • Application Process: The final step is to submit an application for licensure with the state licensing board. The application will require the individual to disclose any past criminal convictions, disciplinary actions, or other issues that may impact their eligibility for licensure.

Licensing Board Regulations and Compliance

Once a CPA firm is licensed, they are required to comply with ongoing regulations and compliance requirements set forth by their state’s licensing board. These requirements may include continuing education, periodic financial reporting, and compliance with ethical and professional standards.

State CPA Firm Licensing Requirements
California CPA firms must be owned by licensed CPAs, and the controlling interest must be held by CPAs.
New York CPA firms must be owned by licensed CPAs, but non-CPAs can own up to 49% of the firm.
Florida CPA firms must be owned by licensed CPAs, but non-CPAs can own up to 49% of the firm.

It’s important for any EA who wants to own a CPA firm to carefully research and understand the state licensing requirements and regulations for their specific state. By complying with these requirements and maintaining a high level of professional and ethical standards, an EA can successfully transition into owning a CPA firm.

A Comparison of Enrolled Agents and CPAs in Taxation Services

Enrolled agents and Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are both professionals who work in the field of taxation services, but there are some significant differences between the two. Understanding these differences can help you make an informed decision about which type of professional you need for your tax needs.

Here, we’ll take a closer look at some of the differences between enrolled agents and CPAs.

  • Education and Certification: To become an enrolled agent (EA), a person must pass a three-part exam administered by the IRS. There are no formal education requirements beyond a high school diploma or equivalent. On the other hand, to become a CPA, a person must have a bachelor’s degree, complete 150 hours of education, and pass the rigorous Uniform CPA Examination.
  • Scope of Practice: EAs are authorized to represent taxpayers before the IRS in all matters, including audits, collections, and appeals. They are also authorized to prepare and file tax returns for individuals and businesses. CPAs, on the other hand, may or may not have authorization to represent taxpayers before the IRS, but they are authorized to provide a wider range of services, including financial planning, accounting, and auditing.
  • Fees: EAs tend to charge lower fees than CPAs, primarily because the education and certification requirements for becoming an EA are less stringent than those for becoming a CPA. However, like any professional service provider, the fees charged by EAs and CPAs can vary widely depending on factors such as location, experience, and the complexity of the services required.

Can an Enrolled Agent Own a CPA Firm?

One question that often comes up is whether an enrolled agent can own a CPA firm. The answer is generally yes. There is no specific rule or law that prohibits an EA from owning a CPA firm, provided that the EA meets the qualifications required for owning a CPA firm.

However, an EA who owns a CPA firm will likely face more stringent requirements and regulations than a CPA owner. For example, the EA may not be able to sign audit opinions, which is a key function of a CPA in an accounting firm. Additionally, depending on the state, there may be additional requirements that must be met before an EA can own a CPA firm. It’s important to check with the state board of accountancy and/or the IRS for specific regulations relevant to your location.

Enrolled Agents CPAs
Authorized to represent taxpayers before the IRS in all matters. May or may not be authorized to represent taxpayers before the IRS.
Authorized to prepare and file tax returns for individuals and businesses. Authorized to provide a wider range of services, including financial planning, accounting, and auditing.
Less stringent education and certification requirements Requires a bachelor’s degree, 150 hours of education, and passing the Uniform CPA Examination.

Ultimately, choosing between an enrolled agent and a CPA for your tax needs will depend on the specific services you require, your budget, and other factors such as location and availability. Regardless of which type of professional you choose, however, it’s important to do your research and choose someone who is qualified, experienced, and has a good reputation for providing high-quality tax services.

Operational Responsibilities of CPA firms

CPA firms have a wide range of operational responsibilities that they must manage to ensure they are meeting their clients’ needs and maintaining their own business operations. These responsibilities include financial management, internal controls, risk management, and compliance.

  • Financial Management: One of the main functions of a CPA firm is to provide financial management services for their clients. This includes preparing financial statements, managing cash flow, and providing tax planning and preparation services.
  • Internal Controls: CPA firms are responsible for ensuring that their clients have effective internal controls in place to prevent fraud and other financial irregularities. They must also maintain their own internal controls to ensure the accuracy and integrity of their financial statements.
  • Risk Management: CPA firms must manage risk both for their clients and their own operations. This includes identifying potential risks, developing strategies to mitigate them, and monitoring them on an ongoing basis.

CPA Firm Ownership: Can an Enrolled Agent Own a CPA Firm?

One of the questions that often comes up in the world of accounting is whether an Enrolled Agent (EA) can own a CPA firm. The answer is that while there are no specific rules that prevent an EA from owning a CPA firm, there are certain restrictions that must be taken into consideration.

For example, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has rules in place that require any firm that performs certain types of audits or other services for public companies to be registered with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). To be registered with the PCAOB, a firm must have a certain number of licensed CPAs on staff.

So while an EA could technically own a CPA firm, they would need to ensure that the firm meets all applicable regulations and requirements.

Compliance Responsibilities of CPA Firms

One of the most important responsibilities of a CPA firm is to ensure that it is in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. This includes compliance with tax laws, SEC regulations, state regulations, and other industry-specific regulations.

CPA firms must also ensure that their clients are in compliance with all applicable regulations. This includes preparing and filing tax returns, ensuring that financial statements are accurate and complete, and providing advice and guidance on a wide range of financial issues.


Operational Responsibilities of CPA firms
Financial management
Internal controls
Risk management
Compliance responsibilities

CPA firms play a critical role in helping businesses and individuals manage their finances. While an EA can technically own a CPA firm, it is important to ensure that the firm meets all applicable regulations and requirements. CPA firms must also be diligent in their compliance responsibilities to ensure that they are meeting all legal and regulatory requirements.

The Process of Becoming an Enrolled Agent or CPA

Enrolled Agents (EAs) and Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are both professionals who specialize in tax preparation, planning, and compliance. EAs are licensed by the IRS, while CPAs are licensed by state boards of accountancy. Here’s a breakdown of how to become an EA or CPA:

  • Becoming an Enrolled Agent: To become an EA, you must pass a three-part Special Enrollment Examination (SEE) or have relevant experience working for the IRS. The SEE covers individual and business tax returns, representation, and ethics. Once you pass the exam, you must pass a background check and apply for enrollment with the IRS.
  • Becoming a Certified Public Accountant: To become a CPA, you must have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field, pass the Uniform CPA Exam, and meet the experience and education requirements set by your state’s board of accountancy. Most states require at least 150 semester hours of college education and two years of public accounting experience.

Both EAs and CPAs must obtain continuing education credits to maintain their licenses and keep up-to-date with tax laws and regulations. EAs must complete 72 hours of continuing education every three years, while CPAs must meet their state’s continuing education requirements.

Overall, the process of becoming an EA or CPA requires dedication, hard work, and a commitment to ongoing education and professional development.

Here’s a comparison table of the requirements to become an EA or a CPA:

Enrolled Agent Certified Public Accountant
Education Requirements No specific education requirements, but a background in tax preparation or accounting is helpful. Bachelor’s degree in accounting or related field, at least 150 semester hours of college education.
Exam Requirements Pass a three-part Special Enrollment Examination, covering individual and business tax returns, representation, and ethics. Pass the Uniform CPA Exam.
Experience Requirements No specific experience requirements, but relevant experience working with the IRS is helpful. Varies by state, but typically two years of public accounting experience.
Licensing Enroll with the IRS. Licensed by state boards of accountancy.

Whether you choose to become an EA or CPA, both professions offer the opportunity to help clients navigate the complex world of tax preparation and compliance. With the right education, experience, and dedication, you can build a successful career as a tax professional.

Handling of Confidential Information in CPA Firms

One of the most important aspects of being a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is handling confidential information. Clients trust CPAs with their sensitive financial information, and it is the responsibility of the CPA to keep that information secure. This section will cover the handling of confidential information in CPA firms.

Ethical Considerations

  • CPAs are held to a high ethical standard, and must maintain confidentiality in all aspects of their practice.
  • Disclosure of confidential information is a breach of trust, and can result in legal action against the CPA.
  • Some types of confidential information are protected by law, such as information governed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Security Protocols

CPA firms must implement security protocols to ensure the confidentiality of client information. These protocols may include:

  • Physical security measures, such as locked offices and secure file storage
  • Secure computer systems, with firewalls, anti-virus software, and frequent software updates
  • Regular employee training on security protocols and best practices

Data Encryption

Data encryption is an important tool in ensuring the confidentiality of client information. Encryption technology scrambles data so that it can only be read by those with the key to decrypt it. CPA firms should consider using encryption technology for all confidential information, both in transit (such as sending emails) and at rest (such as storing files on a server).

Confidentiality Agreements

CPA firms should require all employees to sign a confidentiality agreement. This agreement outlines the employee’s responsibilities regarding confidential information, and the consequences of violating those responsibilities. These agreements can also include provisions requiring employees to return confidential information to the firm upon termination of employment or at the request of the client.

Key Elements of a Confidentiality Agreement
Definition of confidential information
Employee responsibilities for handling confidential information
Consequences for violating confidentiality
Provisions for return of confidential information

A well-written confidentiality agreement can go a long way in protecting client information and the reputation of the CPA firm.

Professional Growth Opportunities for Enrolled Agents and CPAs

As licensed tax professionals, enrolled agents (EAs) and certified public accountants (CPAs) have numerous avenues for professional growth and development. Here are seven opportunities for EAs and CPAs to consider:

  • Continuing education: Both EAs and CPAs are required to complete annual continuing education courses to maintain their credentials. This requirement allows for ongoing professional development and up-to-date knowledge of the ever-changing tax laws and regulations.
  • Networking: Attending networking events and connecting with other professionals in the tax industry can provide valuable resources, referrals, and potential partnerships. Networking can happen online or in person, through industry associations, social media groups, or through professional events and conferences.
  • Specialization: Developing a niche or specialized area of expertise can set an EA or CPA apart from their competition. Specializations can include areas such as international tax, small business tax, or estate planning.
  • Volunteering: Becoming involved in community service or pro bono work can provide opportunities to use tax knowledge to help those in need while also gaining additional experience and expanding skills.
  • Leadership roles: Serving in leadership roles within professional associations or on boards of directors can provide opportunities to have a say in the direction of the industry, build leadership skills and visibility, and expand professional networks.
  • Writing and speaking: Creating content for publications, blogs, and websites, or speaking at industry events can provide opportunities to share expertise, build authority, and attract potential clients.
  • Cross-training: Cross-training with other disciplines, such as financial planning, accounting, or law, can provide new perspectives and skills that can be applied to the tax profession.

Industry Recognition and Certifications

EAs and CPAs can also pursue industry-specific certifications and designations to demonstrate their knowledge and expertise. For example, EAs can earn specialized certifications in areas such as estate planning or taxation of international individuals, while CPAs can earn certifications in fields such as financial forensics or business valuation. Advanced certifications demonstrate a commitment to the profession and can also provide a competitive advantage and industry recognition.

Technological Advancements

Advancements in technology provide opportunities for professionals to work more efficiently and effectively. Embracing technology such as cloud-based accounting software or tax software can provide additional time to invest in professional growth and development. Additionally, utilizing technology for marketing or social media presence can expand professional networks and exposure to potential clients.

Mentorship and Coaching

Working with a mentor or coach can provide guidance and support as an EA or CPA navigates their professional journey. A mentor or coach can provide feedback, advice, and accountability, as well as share their own experiences and lessons learned.

Mentorship Coaching
Helps develop skills and knowledge Helps develop behaviors and mindset
Provides feedback and guidance Provides support and accountability
May be formal or informal Typically more structured and formal

Ultimately, professional growth and development is an ongoing process that requires intentional effort and a commitment to lifelong learning. The opportunities outlined above provide EAs and CPAs with numerous paths to continue growing and advancing within the tax profession.

Can an Enrolled Agent Own a CPA Firm?

1. What is an Enrolled Agent?

An Enrolled Agent (EA) is a tax professional authorized by the IRS to represent taxpayers and help them with tax-related matters.

2. What is a CPA Firm?

A CPA Firm is a business that provides accounting services, including tax preparation and auditing, to clients.

3. Can an Enrolled Agent own a CPA Firm?

Yes, an Enrolled Agent can own a CPA Firm, as long as they follow the state and federal regulations that govern the ownership of tax and accounting practices.

4. What are the requirements for owning a CPA Firm?

The requirements for owning a CPA Firm vary by state, but generally, a person must have a CPA license and meet certain educational and experience requirements.

5. What are the benefits of owning a CPA Firm?

Owning a CPA Firm allows an Enrolled Agent to expand their business and offer a wider range of services to clients. It also provides opportunities for growth and increased revenue.

6. Are there any limitations to owning a CPA Firm as an Enrolled Agent?

While there are no specific limitations, an Enrolled Agent may need to hire a CPA to perform certain services that require a CPA license.

7. How can I ensure compliance with regulations when owning a CPA Firm as an Enrolled Agent?

To ensure compliance, it’s important to stay up-to-date on state and federal regulations, maintain proper licensing and certification, and seek the guidance of a legal or accounting professional when needed.

Closing Thoughts

Thank you for reading about whether an Enrolled Agent can own a CPA Firm. While the regulations may seem daunting, owning a CPA Firm can provide a lot of opportunities for growth and expanded services. Remember to always stay compliant and seek professional guidance when needed. Have a great day, and visit us again soon!