Most tax preparers are what are known as “un-enrolled” tax preparers. To become and Enrolled Agent (EA) I took a series of four, three hour, closed book exams administered by the IRS over a two day period. The exams covered all aspects of taxation.
After passing the exams on the first sitting, and after a thorough background check, I was then licensed by the Department of the Treasury to practice in front of the IRS. To maintain that license, I must complete a minimum of 24 hours of professional education each year, including ethics. I have averaged over 50 hours per year since becoming an EA including training in how to deal with the IRS.
Only Enrolled Agents, Certified Public Accountants, Enrolled Actuaries and Attorneys may practice in front of the IRS.