If Italian family traditions begin at home, then so, too, should Italian family business ventures. While Lewis Affetto was only 16, he helped his father, Bernard, with tax work he did out of their residence in Chicago’s Galewood neighborhood.
“I’d do bookkeeping for family businesses and some simple tax returns,” recalls Lewis Affetto, who’s of Sicilian lineage. “It just came naturally to me. Then I took some accounting classes in high school and did very well, so I decided it was the right way to go.”
Boy, was it ever. Today Lewis and his sister Maria Gambino run Bernard A. Affetto & Co. CPAs. The other CPAs on staff include a second sister, Roxane Pope; nephew Benedict Affetto; and Lewis’ daughter, Danielle Atkins. (Dad is retired from the company that bears his name.)
One big happy number-crunching family, the Affettos make every effort to extend that brand of warm support and help to their many clients. These include Italian-American nonprofits that need assistance attaining and maintaining their 501(c)(3) status.
“As we started to grow, we started seeing a few non-profits that weren’t maintaining their tax files properly,” Affetto recalls. “We got involved in trying to help them get back on track.” The firm also does pro bono work with adult facilities for the handicapped, as Lewis’ brother has Down Syndrome.
The firm’s (and family’s) ties to the Italian-American community run deep, and actually extend to Lewis’ grandfather, Marco DeStefano. “He ran Chicago’s Columbus Day Parade for most of his life, and we were very involved as children, walking and working in the parade,” he says. As a result, “My father knew a lot of Italian Americans and, as we grew, it seemed natural to serve the community. It flowed from my grandfather and my father to us.”
The firm also works on 1,800 individual tax returns a year, and is there in the event of any complications. They can answer IRS inquiries, offer representation during an audit, and assist in filing an offer-in-compromise to settle any tax liabilities.
But the work at Affetto & Co. flows year round, not just in the weeks before April 15. The team there specializes in tax work for companies that have annual gross revenue as high as $50 million. Many of these are closely held companies, meaning that the ownership group consists of one or two owners. “The size doesn’t matter, and we can work comfortably in any industry,” Affetto says.
And should you need help starting a business, or acquiring one, the Affetto CPAs can help there, too. A key part of that involves making business projections and offering advice on issues such as incorporation an entity choice. Its other services include software consulting, guidance with tax compliance as codes change, producing audited financial statements; and assistance in seeking alternate financing.
“We’re very hands on,” Affetto says. “For the small businesses we take care of, we help manage and we almost act as comptroller. As our firm did, we’re trying to help the first generation pass things on to the second generation, so what they built can continue throughout generations. That’s what we’re doing well.”
Bernard A. Affetto & Co. CPAs
7816 W. North Ave.
Elmwood Park, IL 60707