Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is a national effort to use volunteers (in our case, Wofford students) to prepare tax returns for working families - helping them access the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which enjoys bi-partisan support and has been hailed as one of the greatest poverty-fighting tools we have. Using volunteers also helps families avoid paying tax prep fees to businesses that pop up in low-income neighborhoods around tax time.

For their part, students will:

  • Learn basic tax skills.
  • Deepen their understanding of a wide array of social systems re: education, employment, housing, healthcare, family stability, etc.
  • Develop empathy for people from other socio-economic statuses.
  • Build skills in collaborating across difference to achieve a civic aim.

For many, sitting with dozens of low-income families to discuss their finances debunks myths students have carried about lower-income people and about the social systems that can trap people near or below the poverty level.

Wofford’s VITA program was founded a decade ago by the compassionate and talented Professor Jenny Johnson in Accounting. In 2016, through the Center for Community-Based Learning (CCBL), and in continued partnership with Professor Johnson, Wofford began partnering with the SaveFirst initiative of Impact America to manage our VITA program. In 2017, the site moved to its current location at the Spartanburg Downtown Library headquarters. 2017 was a banner year for Wofford’s VITA program. Students in the “Introduction to Community Development” Interim and upper level Accounting classes:

  • Prepared 520 tax returns for working families in Spartanburg.
  • The average adjusted gross income of the 520 households was $18,729.
  • Average return secured was $1,153, or about 8% of the families’ adjusted gross incomes.
  • A total of more than $600,000 in tax refunds.
  • Saving the families $200,000 in tax preparation fees.
  • For a total economic impact of $800,000 – all of it going into the household coffers of lower-income, working families in Spartanburg County.

If you’re interested in getting involved with VITA, please contact a staff member.