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.