During two recent academic years, the authors explored various aspects of the United States Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. They served as volunteers in three separate VITA programs, each operating under different models. Based on their experiences, VITA programs are an under-utilized source of service learning opportunities for students. The number and diversity of programs, the flexibility in each program, and the availability of quality educational, technological, and mentoring support, make it possible to design a service learning opportunity for any student population. Recent program enhancements make the experience particularly meaningful for accounting students interested in public practice. This paper overviews the VITA program and describes: 1. three program models; 2. the pros and cons of each model as the basis for a service learning opportunity; and 3. the critical need to carefully consider objectives when designing a VITA program-based service learning opportunity. While individual income taxes may not exist in some countries or may be less complex than in the United States, the VITA models presented in this paper may be relevant example models of ways to structure opportunities for other accounting student learning activities.


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