VITA, Experiential Learning, Service-Learning, Developing Professional Competencies
The authors describe how Southern Utah University has integrated the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program as an experiential service-learning activity for over a decade and a half. First, we describe the value of experiential service-learning. Second, we detail the program, its oversight, its student volunteers, and its purposes. Third, we provide a quantitative assessment of professional competencies based on a sample of 29 recent VITA student volunteers. Fourth, we describe a qualitative analysis of VITA student volunteers perceptions of their participation using content analysis of written essays. And last, we provide a qualitative analysis of 71 tax-clients perceptions of their participation in the program, again using content analysis. Based on our experiences and these results, we conclude that the VITA program is demonstrably beneficial for the institutions social responsibility for benefitting both the student volunteers professional development and communitys lower-income tax filers.