The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) through a competitive bid process awarded the American Institute of Retirement Education, LLC (AIRE) the contract to conduct the examinations for the Enrolled Retirement Plan Agent (ERPA) program. Circular 230 established the new classification of practitioner, the Enrolled Retirement Plan Agent upon revision in September 2007. IRS Employee Plans was charged with the responsibility to establish the ERPA Program. The Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) has jurisdiction over Attorneys, CPAs, Appraisers, Enrolled Agents and Enrolled Retirement Plan Agents. IRS created ERPA to provide a credentialing process for third party administrators and benefit consultants of tax-exempt retirement plans.
In March 2008, the IRS issued a Request for Proposal to the general public for a vendor to develop, validate, administer and update an examination in support of the Enrolled Retirement Plan Agent program. AIRE reviewed the request, conducted surveys and ultimately developed an extensive detailed proposal and submitted it to the IRS for consideration in late April. After careful consideration of the proposals, the IRS determined the AIRE proposal met all evaluation factors and presented the best value to the Government. Monika Templeman, Director, EP Examination and Executive Champion/Business Owner of the ERPA Program said “The award of the ERPA Special Enrollment Examination contract to AIRE is a gratifying and monumental step toward bringing the ERPA Program to fruition.”
The Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities, who recommended the ERPA classification to the IRS estimates that in the first five years as many as 3,000 to 6,000 practitioners could avail themselves of this new enrollment opportunity. Enrollment by this exam process would allow ERPAs to practice before the IRS with respect to retirement plan matters.
An ERPA is limited to representation with respect to issues involving the:
IRS Forms 5500 and 5300 series but not with respect to actuarial forms or schedules.
AIRE’s Board of Managers consists of some of the most prestigious members in the retirement plan community throughout the United States. The AIRE Board of Managers have unmatched depth and breadth of knowledge and expertise to establish the degree of proficiency required of an ERPA candidate to demonstrate competency in retirement plan matters. They will serve as advocates for the ERPA examination program and provide assistance and guidance for ERPA team members in their day to day activities. AIRE is working with Prometric and the University of Michigan to administer and conduct the ERPA Special Enrollment Examination. Prometric offers the largest worldwide test center network, with nearly 300 U.S. based centers located in the 50 states. The University of Michigan is consistently ranked among the top public universities. Both Prometric and the University of Michigan will support AIRE in the academic content and examination standards for the ERPA Special Enrollment Examination. AIRE expects the first ERPA Special Enrollment Examination early next year.
More information about this program will be available www.irs.gov under the Tax Professionals and Retirement Plans Community tabs, and at www.ERPAEXAM.org website.