The History of Enrolled Agents and CSEA

The history of Enrolled Agents dates back to 1884 when Congress passed what’s known as the Horse Act of 1884. Signed into law by President Chester A. Arthur on July 7, 1884, the bill was created as a reaction to fraudulent war loss claims in the wake of the American Civil War. After the war, many citizens faced difficulties in settling claims with the government for property confiscated for use in the war effort, and many dubious claims were submitted by scam artists. As a result, Congress endowed enrolled agents with the power of advocacy to prepare claims against the government. A standard was created for enrolled agents that included suitability checks, criminal records check and a moral character evaluation.
The 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is passed, declaring Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

The Revenue Act of 1913 is passed and signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson, expanding the scope of enrolled agents to include claims for monetary relief for citizens whose taxes had become inequitable.

The first Form 1040 was released by the IRS. Click to view
As income, estate, gift and other sources of tax collections became more complex, the role of the enrolled agent increased to include the preparation of the many tax forms required. Audits became more prevalent and the enrolled agent role evolved into taxpayer representation, promulgating a series of statutes which were combined into a single Treasury Department Circular in February 19, 1921, known as Circular 230, to address “the laws and regulations governing the recognition of agents, attorneys, and other persons representing claimants before the Treasury Department and offices thereof.”
A special enrollment exam was created to qualify representatives before they could represent taxpayers before the IRS.
The Treasury Department began using the Enrolled Agent (Enrolled to Practice before the IRS) title for the professionals it licensed.
Through the pioneering efforts of David Smollan, EA, the Founding Chapter of an organization dedicated to Enrolled Agents was established in Los Angeles. Wihin one year it was the largest organization of EAs in the country and was the basis for what would later become the National Association of Enrolled Agents.
The “California Society of Enrolled Agents” is incorporated, formed to coordinate efforts on behalf of EAs and the eight California Chapters. The first CSEA convention is held in Santa Clara, 25 EAs attend.
A bill passed and was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown to allow the formal recognition of EAs and the use of the initials “EA” as a professional designation
First TV spots are aired promoting EAs
In May, CSEA “Education Month” is launched to tremendous success, with seminars from San Diego to Redding to raise awareness and funds.
The first CSEA “Super Seminar” is held in Lake Tahoe, 200 attend, more than doubled the expected number.
Super Seminar expands to a two-day event in two locations, Las Vegas and Reno. The CSEA Scholarship Fund is created.
The CSEA Legislative Action Fund is created. CSEA membership is now over 2000.
CSEA moves into its current location on Ramos Circle in Sacramento. The Thomas P. Hess Award is established to recognize extraordinary contributors to the education goals of CSEA.
PBS airs a four-part series titled “The Tax Professionals,” successfully informing the public about EAs. CSEA’s “We Speak Tax” promotion is launched with the first toll free number to promote Members’ Services.
CSEA purchases their building on Ramos Circle in Sacramento. In 1999, the loan will be paid in full.
The first CSEA Legislative Day is held in Sacramento. Jim Stern, EA, whom Legislative Day would later be named after, is awarded the first CSEA Distinguished Service Award, along with Tom Hess, EA, and Nancy Nesbitt, EA.
The initials “E.A.” were finally designated by the Treasury Department as the that of Enrolled Agent.

Super Seminar is now held at five locations, including the Puerta Vallarta.
The Society’s “Flat Tax Worksheet” garners nationwide media interest and the first statewide radio advertising campaign increases public awareness of EAs as “The Tax Professionals.”
The website launches
“International Associate” membership level is added for our affiliation with the Japanese Tax Accountants.
After 18 years of serving CSEA as Executive Vice President, Bill Sprague retires.
CSEA total membership reaches 4,000.
The 20th annual Super Seminars are held in Las Vegas and Reno.

CSEA successfully leads the charge against mandatory e-filing of tax returns.
CSEA adds the “Professional Associate” membership category, allowing non-EA tax professionals to join.
CSEA celebrates it’s 30th anniversary.

An “Honorary Membership” category is approved. Longtime CSEA EVP, Bill Sprague, is the first to be honored.
CSEA’s Education Foundation is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)3.

The IRS presents a special Certificate of Appreciation to CSEA.
California Assembly Bill 129 (confidentiality for EAs) passes.

The website launches.
The CSEA Business Partner Program launches, providing members with enhanced benefits and partner discounts.
CSEA launches the Online Learning Portal, featuring the Super Seminar content, now accessible anytime from anywhere.
CSEA Board of Directors adopts “Powering California’s Tax Experts” as our official tagline.

CSEA holds the first statewide walk-in Tax Help Day with nine Chapters participating at 14 locations.