Students participate in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) to improve both technical competence and soft skills. To date, research primarily assesses student perceptions about these outcomes. We empirically measure and test for changes in technical competence and soft skills at the beginning and end of VITA participation at one major midwestern university. Our results indicate first-time participants in VITA improve in technical competence, but students do not become better calibrated with respect to “knowing what they know” as a result of VITA participation. Importantly however, participants in the program improve in their soft skills. Further, both first-time and repeat participants improve their communication skills, although we do not find improvement in interpersonal relations or personal abilities for repeat participants. In sum, our empirical results indicate that the VITA program does deliver the hoped-for outcomes across a wide range of skills.

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