The Association for Main Street
Accountants and Tax Professionals.

Earn the EA Credential with FFA
Enrolled Agent is the Credential to Earn
The Fast Forward Strategy is Your Best Bet to Pass

by Jon A. Hayes, Executive Director

July 10, 2015 -- A question I continually field is "Should I earn the Enrolled Agent credential?" My answer is always the same: YES, especially if you plan to continue preparing taxes for at least 5 more years.

The EA stands at the top of the echelon of credentials for tax preparers simply because it is an IRS-endorsed and administered program, it allows the preparer to represent clients in most IRS inquiries and examinations, and it demonstrates the highest level of understanding of our complex tax code since it is considered the most difficult taxation exam in the world.

It is also a powerful marketing tool, especially as individual and corporate taxation becomes more complex, the Affordable Care Act impacts taxpayers, and more taxpayers are checking out their preparer's qualifications via IRS and private directories. 

Consider the Fast Forward Academy Strategy

Now that the EA exam has been reduced to three parts from four and candidates can take the exam for each part at any time during a year rather than just in May or September, earning the credential can be accomplished somewhat easier using this strategy:

1. Purchase the Fast Forward Academy EA Homestudy Course since no other course produces the 90-plus percent pass rate, provides the most comprehensive test bank of probable questions, supports the bank with easy-to-follow reference materials, and provides excellent customer services.

2. Prepare for Part 1 - Individual Taxation right now while you still have memories of this past 1040 season fresh in your mind. Part 1 is considered the easiest section to pass simply because you deal with those issues consistently each year. The time investment shouldn't be long as many test candidates report taking as little as 8 hours to prepare and pass. You should be able to pass this section by the end of July.

3. Move immediately into Part 3 - Ethics and Law immediately after passing part 1. This section is primarily memorization-intensive, so you should plan on 10-20 hours of preparation and taking practice exams to master it. If you devote the month of August to this section and pass that part by Labor Day, you're in terrific shape.

4. With two parts completed, you can now focus on the most difficult part of the process: Part 2 - Businesses in September and October. For preparers who do little or no business tax work, this can be a daunting task. However, if you follow the Fast Forward Academy process and supplement it with a business tax seminar (like the GEAR UP Business Entities Seminar), you will find your understanding and retention vastly enhanced, and when you consistently begin to pass the practice exams at FFA, you're ready to tackle the final piece to earning the EA.

Profiting from the EA Credential

And remember, once you pass this exam, you must be prepared to exploit the accomplishment. Be sure you let your clients know with a mailed personal letter and an e-mail with the letter attachment. Send a press release to your local daily and weekly newspapers along with a good personal photo they can use. Consider display advertising in local professional and civic organization publications in search of new individual and business clients.

If you're a 1040-only practice, give serious consideration to branching into business tax preparation simply because you've passed Part 2 of the exam and now possess the skills to do it. As I've said many times, a practice with more than just 1040 tax preparation services is more lucrative in a future sale, and if you want your investment to pay off down the road, your goal must be to build diverse services into that business.

And finally, remember that your affiliation in MTAP can be the key to building a diverse, valuable business. We're developing mentoring groups of veteran members who can provide valuable insights and advice as you invest in practice growth. By using virtual communications, you can reach out quickly and get answers. You'll hear more about this in the fall.

In the meantime make that commitment to earning the EA and create that professional foundation that makes it easier to build a successful business and career. The timing couldn't be better as the economy continues to improve, the tax system becomes more complex, and taxpayers are again seeking professional help to manage this critical responsibility.

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Michigan Tax and Accounting Professionals, formerly known as the Independent Accountants Association of Michigan, was formed in 1946 to protect and represent the interests of accountants and tax professionals in Michigan. The association offers a full compliment of programs and services that help its members grow and prosper in the industry. Not a member of MTAP? Want to be informed like this on matters of importance to you? Join today for only $97 and insure your interests are represented, your rights to practice are protected, and your ability to prosper in this profession is maximized! Visit or call 517-641-7505 to join.

MTAP P.O. Box 398 Bath, MI 48808-0398