The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced further details of the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE) in 2006. The newly announced details vary slightly from those anticipated in April when the IRS announced Thomson Prometric had been selected to develop and administer a computer-based version of the exam on behalf of the IRS. The IRS anticipates that complete information on the new exam will be available later this month, including a detailed outline of topics to study for each part of the exam.
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The first difference is that the exam will be in three parts rather than the previously announced four parts. The three parts of the new exam will be:
- Part 1 – Individuals
- Part 2 – Businesses
- Part 3 – Representation, Practice and Procedures
Additional details of the exam currently available include:
- Each part of the new exam will have about 100 questions.
- Candidates will not be required to take all parts in one sitting.
- The new exam is scheduled to be available in October.
- The examination will be offered at approximately 300 testing centers operated by Thomson Prometric. Previously, the IRS had only been able to offer testing at about 90 locations. Candidates will take the examination at a computer terminal.
Carryover Transition Rules
Under previous rules, subject to certain restrictions, some candidates who did not pass all four parts of the IRS Special Enrollment Examination could carryover scores for the sections they passed. For the new format of the exam, the following transition rules will be in effect.
Subject to the conditions noted below, candidates who were eligible to carryover passing scores under the IRS four part format will not be required to take the corresponding part of the Thomson Prometric three-part examination.
Part 1 – Individuals of the Thomson Prometric exam corresponds to Part 1 – Individuals of the IRS SEE exam.
Part 2 – Businesses of the Thomson Prometric exam corresponds to IRS SEE Part 2 – Sole Proprietorships and Part 3 – Corporations, Fiduciaries, Estate and Gift Tax and Trusts. Candiates who only passed Part 2 or Part 3 of the IRS SEE exam must retake Part 2 of the Thomson Prometric exam.
Thomson Prometric Part 3 – Representation, Pactice and Procedure corresponds to Part 4 – Ethics, Recordkeeping Procedures, Appeal Procedures, etc. of the IRS SEE exam.
The transition carryover rules are subject to the following restrictions:
- In order to carryover scores from the IRS format to the Thomson Prometric format, candidates must meet prior minimum retention rules for carryover, specifically, the candidates must have been notified by the IRS that they could carryover scores for the parts passed.
- Candidates applying carryover scores from the IRS format to the Thomson Prometric format may only do so through December 31, 2007. Consequently, individuals who passed part(s) of the 2003, 2004 or 2005 exams (and met prior minimum retention rules for carryover) would have until December 31, 2007, to pass the remaining part(s) of the exam.
- Candidates who passed parts of the 2002 exam or earlier exams, may not carryover their scores. They have used up all remaining attempts to pass the exam under the former rules.
Generally, passing the SEE enables an individual to become an Enrolled Agent (EA) after undergoing an additional background check. EAs have earned the privilege of practicing before the IRS. Like attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs), EAs can represent taxpayers in both examinations and collection matters. There are currently about 40,000 active Enrolled Agents.