If EAs are Liechtenstein and CPAs are the U.S., What are the Unenrolled?

Where Lichtenstein is located.  (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)
Where Lichtenstein – kindred spirit of EAs – is located.
(Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

One time I wrote that Enrolled Agents are like Liechtenstein and CPAs are like the United States, in terms of name recognition and clout. But my article on that subject neglected to mention the unenrolled.

As of October 2, 2013, there were 46,795 practicing EAs, 214,267 CPAs, 31,972 attorneys and 395,908 unenrolled preparers. If we were to assign a country to the unenrolled, what would that country be?

I ask tongue-in-cheek of course (sort of). The point of my original article was to point out how little name recognition EAs have. The name “CPA” means “tax expert” to most people. EAs and the unenrolled can shake their fists at this fact, but it IS a fact. CPAs have won the PR battle against all other designations in the tax world. They are the USA of the tax world.

So in answer to my question about what country to assign to the unenrolled: I wouldn’t assign them a country, but rather a continent. Asia, perhaps? The reason being, some unenrolled preparers are excellent — every bit as good as (and maybe even better than) any CPA or EA. But others are the equivalent of third-world countries.

As a whole, the unenrolled have massive numbers and the potential for critical mass if they ever get organized.

And I guess I shouldn’t neglect attorneys, either. They’re small in number, but powerful. Great Britain, perhaps?

Comments are welcome. And I hope that readers of this article will realize that I’m trying to be whimsical with this while making a point about name recognition and respect.

“This blog post, along with comments that may follow, should not be considered tax advice. Before you make final tax or financial decisions, please secure a professional tax advisor to give you advice about your unique situation. To secure Jason as your accountant, please click on the ‘Services’ link at the top of the page.”


    • Jason Dinesen says

      Funny, when I was writing the original post last year, I was torn between Liechtenstein and Luxembourg.

  1. says

    Unenrolled tax preparers are Russia — mainly underworld practices operated by thuggish bribe takers… but additionally populated with many honest and efficient entrepreneurs. Several of the high quality unenrolled I know plan to study the EA exam course at http://fastforwardacademy.com/enrolled-agent-exam-prep.htm in November and December, but they also need a break from business after the October 15 tax filing deadline.

    A combination of experience and training produces the best tax experts. Maybe the unenrolled need better understanding of the value derived from EA training… just like many novice EAs need experience working under someone like Jason Dinesen. Grow your EA practice and the brand will also grow.