Lake Erie College Conducts Community Tax Clinics

For the past 18 years, Lake Erie College has facilitated tax clinics at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Painesville. It is an opportunity for accounting students to put their skills to use and help the local community file their taxes. This year, the tax clinics helped bring in $40,040 in federal refunds for the clients.

This exercise is part of a course taught by Julie Ziemak, Assistant Professor of Accounting and Justine Barnum, Staff Accountant at Lake Erie College. In her freshman year, accounting major Chloe Beach ‘21 joined the tax clinic team as part of a course. In the following years, Beach interned at Zappitelli Financial Services and continued to volunteer at each tax clinic. Now as a senior, Beach already has an offer for a full-time position at Zappitelli Financial Services. Of the 19 accounting students graduating in 2021, all 19 interned at least once during their undergraduate studies, 15 already have full-time positions and 10 are continuing their studies to gain 150 hours to sit for the CPA exam.

The tax clinic program is incredibly thankful to Zappitelli Financial Services, and specifically Bob and Carol Zappitelli for their support in donating to the efforts. Bob Zappitelli is a member of the board at LEC and a huge supporter of the college, as evidenced by the Zappitelli Wrestling Complex named after the family for their generous donations and involvement with the program.

The tax clinic course is community-based, which means there are additional costs above and beyond the normal class, including paid interpreters, printing costs, office expenses and more. These expenses require donations each year to continue the program, making the Zappitellis a valuable part of the continuation of the program.

Beach also became one of the instructors for this year’s tax clinic as part of her honors senior research project. She and Ziemak tracked the credits that they were able to utilize for each of their clients so she could use the data in her final research presentation. Ziemak is thrilled by the success of this year’s clinics.

“I am really proud of this program. Our students helped to bring over $40,000 into our community,” said Ziemak. This number does not include Ohio income tax refunds. Ziemak, Barnum and their students intend to continue this tradition in future years, and the services are available to all taxpayers. Low income taxpayers who are ESL are welcome as there are paid interpreters at each clinic.

“This is such a credit to the Tax Clinic and the benefits that it provides to an underserved population in our community!” said Jennifer Kinnaird, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Business. “I'm sure those dollars were very appreciated and I’m proud that our students were able to assist!”