Cura Personalis: JP Krahel, Ph.D., CPA
Loyola’s Teacher of the year helps accounting students connect with the community
Knowing that some tax preparers were taking advantage of low-income families along Baltimore’s York Road corridor didn’t sit well with John Peter “JP” Krahel, Ph.D., CPA.
Promising quick money, the preparers offered unsuspecting clients a portion of their tax refund upfront, in exchange for the right for preparers to keep their clients’ total refund when it arrived.
“It’s a predatory practice,” said the associate professor of accounting, noting that Loyola’s neighbors were effectively being charged an interest rate of 35% or more. “I hate that.”
After three years’ work and a couple of false starts, Krahel launched a program in February to give residents free tax assistance. Approximately 45 student volunteers from Loyola received training and certification from the IRS to prepare tax returns, and 26 of them volunteered at the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) clinic at the Loyola Clinical Centers.
At the end of this past tax season, the VITA clinic at Belvedere Square returned a total of $260,000 in refunds to the community—without any fees or interest.
“It’s one thing to know the poor are suffering,” said Krahel, who asks his students to write reflection papers about their service-learning experiences. “It’s another thing to get up close and personal and see somebody’s W-2 and ask yourself, ‘Wow, how is she raising three kids on her salary?’”
Krahel’s perseverance in getting the VITA clinic off the ground is just one example of why he was named Loyola’s Harry W. Rodgers III Distinguished Teacher of the Year. Nominated by his students, the New Jersey native was lauded for his commitment to the community and excellence in the classroom.
Krahel holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Accountancy from Rider University, earned his doctorate in accounting from Rutgers University, and received his CPA license from the State of Georgia.
He has taught at Loyola since 2012. His accounting courses have focused mostly on the undergraduate level, with his own research including an examination of the interaction of social media and corporate risk.
Krahel, who has helped facilitate student-guided microloans to local businesses, said he tries to make his classes personal. He invites students to think in practical ways about concepts such as how personal budgeting may affect their future lifestyle choices. He also frequently uses metaphors and tries to inject humor into his lectures.
“Every once in a while, I’ll introduce some fact that has nothing to do with anything, because I know that an hour and a half or—God forbid—a three-hour accounting lecture is deadly,” he said with a laugh.
Krahel has become a familiar presence in local media, appearing on several news programs in Baltimore and being interviewed by the Baltimore Sun, the Washington Post, and the Daily Record.
“I’m a total showboat,” Krahel admitted. “When I get in front of the camera, I will not leave until I’m kicked away.” The easygoing professor said he is happy to help make complex questions about the ever-changing tax code more understandable. “It’s about demystifying accounting,” he said.
Krahel enjoys working with students and is delighted that many stay in touch after they graduate. He’s particularly proud of his large LinkedIn network.
“I love that I get to track where they’re going, and I get to see how successful they are,” he said. “That’s really life-affirming.”