While doing research for a book I recently came across “The History of Enrolled Agents(E.A.)” from Robert Normandie EA & Associates. Included at the end of the piece, which discusses the evolution of today’s Enrolled Agent designation, is “an interesting note concerning the E.A. exam”. RN and Associates tell us (are mine) -
“The exam was originally written by American Society of CPA's. It has become a controversy into itself. The controversy is its failure rate. Many critics think that the test was stacked so that very few would pass it regardless of their background. They are quick to point out that most CPA's would fail the test, lacking the necessary tax knowledge. When you look at the logic behind that, it may make sense. Eliminate the completion from the beginning. Some critics go as far to say they think there was collusion between the IRS and the CPA. IRS Agents, after a period of time in service are exempt from taking the test. Again the competition is eliminated. Regardless of whom you believe, the IRS is committed to make change, to make it more fair for all who take it.”
I am not a conspiracy theorist, and I do not buy the IRS working in cahoots with the AICPA.
But did the AICPA, on its own, write the Special Enrollment Examination so that it would be too difficult, and seriously limit the number of eventual Enrolled Agents, true qualified and recognized 1040 experts, to be available to compete with CPAs for tax preparation business – an area that in the opinion of the AICPA, “the public already believes CPAs to own" (click here and read the 4th "starred" item). It certainly would not surprise me if the AICPA did.
And I would also certainly not surprise me if the AICPA was behind the various state laws that “prohibit Enrolled Agents from using their credential when representing taxpayers or advertising for potential clients”, which the recently introduced “Enrolled Agents Credential Act” (HR 2313) hopes to do away with. (see “Bill Would Let EAs Promote Themselves Everywhere").
Can anyone confirm that the AICPA did indeed write the SEE?