Editorial by Daniel Stearns, ORSEA Vice President

The Oregon Board of Tax Practitioners, is on a power trip. They think that they can ignore the law. They think they are above the law. They want to prevent new tax professionals from getting a job. They think that those that disagree with them should leave the state. We need to put a stop to this. The Oregon Society of Enrolled Agents has filed a lawsuit with the Oregon Court of appeals to stop this nonsense. We have also hired a lobbyist. The Tax Board has shown that they will not stop themselves, someone has to stand up to them.

Part of the mission of the Oregon Society of Enrolled Agents is to “Enhance the role of Enrolled Agents among government agencies, other professions, and the public at large.” The Enrolled Agent is the only federal license granted by the IRS and allows unlimited practice before the Internal Revenue Service. This puts an enrolled agent at a level equal to an attorney and a Certified Public Accountant.

Unfortunately, the Oregon Board of Tax Practitioners doesn’t agree with the IRS. The currently board recently enacted rules to limit the ability of Enrolled Agents to practice in Oregon. They made it illegal for a licensed tax consultant to hire a new enrolled agent to work for them. The IRS regards an Enrolled Agent as the equivalent to an Attorney at Law, but the Oregon Board of Tax Practitioners deems them unworthy of being able to have a job. Why do they believe this? Perhaps;

  1. They are afraid of losing power by letting the IRS determine who can practice tax (instead of them)
  2. They do not wish to reform their archaic and convoluted rules on who can practice tax in Oregon. They are afraid if there is a better way (and I believe the Enrolled Agent’s license is a better way) people will choose the better way.
  3. They don’t understand what an Enrolled Agent is. In a recent conversation with a state representative a member of the tax board described Enrolled Agents as “registered, not licensed,” having “Modest requirements”.
  4. They are well aware of their rules and only desire to limit the number of licensed tax professionals in the State. Perhaps they are afraid of competition from new practitioners. It is well known that number of people passing the exam is dropping, our profession is aging and there is a shortage of licensed professionals. In one of my areas of practice my only competition is with unlicensed preparers.

During the 2012 legislative session the director was asked if Inexperienced Enrolled Agents had been causing problems in Oregon, He said there were no complaints, but he just wanted to restrict EAs “just in Case”.   Several members of Legislature commented that they had a “solution waiting for a problem” and they rejected the boards attempted to change the law.

Apparently, though, the State board of tax practitioners didn’t seem bothered that their change went against Oregon law. ORS says that the board “shall” license enrolled agents after they have passed an examination on Oregon tax law.

Since it would appear that the tax board respects, neither law nor reason, we felt it necessary to file a lawsuit to protect our ability to hire qualified people. Our brief along with the tax board’s answering brief can be found on our webpage.

We encourage Enrolled Agents, as well as other informed citizens, to stand up for the rule of law and for common sense. Talk to your state legislators. Be proactive. Don’t let the tax board get away with this.


Here are the three documents that have been filed with the court at this time.

Petitioners Opening Brief

Respondents Answering Brief

Petitioners Reply Brief – ORSEA – Final