An Enrolled Agent is a tax professional who has been admitted to practice before the Internal Revenue Service. Therefore, they may represent taxpayers in all proceedings before the IRS as an attorney-in-fact, with the only exception being the U.S. Tax Court, or Court of Appeals.
Enrolled Agents must pass a special competency exam, and attend at least 16 hours of continuing education classes each year. Enrolled Agents are governed by Circular 230 of the U.S. Treasury Department, and overseen by the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) of the IRS.
Enrolled Agents were created and recognized by the U.S. Government shortly after the Civil War. These agents were trained to assist U.S. citizens in filing claims for horses or other items confiscated for the war effort. When the first income tax was assessed, Enrolled Agents were allowed to step in and help citizens with that process. That is how we are recognized today.