I forgot to take my EA CPE hours last year

What happens to your Enrolled Agent license if you forget to take your required CPE hours one year?  Or two years?  Or three to six years?

Don't panic right away

This can happen to anyone, and it can be that you just forgot to take the minimum required hours for a year, or it can be due to extenuating circumstance.  Some of the common reasons students fail to meet the minimum education requirements are:

These are some of the reasons we've heard from our students, and I am sure the IRS has heard even more.  

Can't go back in time

What it comes down to, is you can't go back in time and make up missed CPE courses.  If you could go back in time, you would just buy shares of Amazon or Apple at the issue prices, and you wouldn't not have to worry about maintaining your EA license.

Since you can't go back in time, the IRS generally advises you to make up your hours as soon as you become aware of the fact that you have missed some CE hours.  Don't delay on this point, the sooner you can complete your hours, the better.

Review what is posted to your IRS PTIN account

To verify what CPE credit has been reported to the IRS, you can login to your PTIN account to view the hours.  Each year is shown under separate tabs.  Review what has been reported to your PTIN account prior to calling the EA Helpline.

You can call the IRS EA Helpline if desired

You can call the EA Helpline to verify what steps you need to take to get current.  Calling the IRS does not alert them to the fact that you have missed your deadline for CPE, and it won't affect the renewal of your license.  The IRS is already aware of your situation because the PTIN system contains a history of courses completed and posted by CPE providers.

More monitoring and notifications in the future

Since the IRS does have direct access to your hours reported, as well as your renewal due date, we expect the IRS will start using email to inform EAs of any missing hours as they become apparent.  We also expect the IRS to start sending out reminders of due dates for renewals.  In the distant past, the IRS sent out (snail mail) renewal notices, but they discontinued that practice many years ago.  We have also speculated that the renewal will be changed to an annual renewal, and coordinated with the PTIN renewal.  

When to panic

If you have not only forgotten to take your CPE courses, but you have also forgotten to send in your renewal Form 8554, you have been automatically placed on inactive status and need to contact the EA Helpline to re-activate. If you have missed two enrollment cycle renewals (i.e. it has been six years since your last enrollment cycle ended), time to panic because this means your EA license has been terminated and you cannot reactivate. You will have to retake the Special Enrollment Exam (SEE).  And I've heard it has gotten harder.