IRS Finalizes Increase in User Fee to Take Enrolled Agent Exam

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In a move that puzzles and disappoints the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA), the IRS is raising the user fee for taking the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE) to become an enrolled agent from $11 per part to $81 per part, effective Aug. 18.

“The IRS says they want more unenrolled preparers to become enrolled agents to enhance the tax administration system and improve compliance. Increasing the user fee will have the exact opposite effect. It just doesn’t make sense,” Jeff Trinca, legislative counsel for the NAEA, said in a prepared statement.

The IRS issued final regulations on the SEE fee increase in July. The new fee applies to exam registrations made on or after March 1, 2018.

Prior to the new fee schedule, the $11 per part portion remained for the testing period that began on May 1, 2017.

Earlier this year, the IRS said the fee for taking each of the three parts of the exam would increase from $109 to $111.94, effective March 1. The $2.94 increase is the result of contract terms between the IRS and Prometric, which administers the exam on behalf of the agency, in May 2016.

The following is a breakdown of the new fee schedule, according to the IRS.

  • The current fee (effective for tests taken beginning May 1, 2017) for taking each of the three parts of the SEE is $111.94. This comprises $11 for the IRS and $100.94 for Prometric.
  • Effective for tests taken beginning May 1, 2018, the fee for each part will be $181.94 ($81 for the IRS; $100.94 for Prometric).
  • Effective for tests taken beginning May 1, 2019, the fee for each part will be $184.97 ($81 for the IRS; $103.97 for Prometric).

The IRS said it doesn’t intend to subsidize any of the cost of making the SEE available to those taking the exam and won’t apply for an exception to the full-cost requirement from the Office of Management and Budget.

According to the July 21 NAEA e-newsletter, the association fought to prevent the IRS from increasing the user fee for taking the SEE.

“Considering many new test takers may need to take Parts II and III multiple times, the fees raise the cost of becoming an enrolled agent,” the newsletter states. “Not only does IRS need to understand that more enrolled agents are good for the tax administration system, but the Service should also be thinking of other ways of encouraging unenrolled preparers to become licensed practitioners.”

About Terry Sheridan

Terry Sheridan

Terry Sheridan is an award-winning journalist who has covered real estate, mortgage finance, health care, insurance, personal finance, and accounting and taxation issues for newspapers, magazines, and websites. A Chicago native and former South Florida resident, she now lives in New England.

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