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Volunteer tax assistance available inmost areas

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DALLAS-Taxpayers looking for free basic income taxpreparation assistance may qualify for IRS sponsoredcommunity-based, volunteer tax return preparationprograms.

"The IRS sponsorsboth the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)and TaxCounseling for the Elderly (TCE)programs," said Clay Sanford,a Dallas-based IRS spokesman."The VITA program offers freetax help to people who earn less than $49,000, and the TCE programoffers free tax help to taxpayers who are 60 andolder."

The IRStrains community volunteers so they can help eligible taxpayers withseveral special credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, theChild Tax Credit and the Credit for the Elderly.Many volunteersites have language specialists to assist people with limitedEnglish skills.

More than 12,000 free tax preparation sitesare open nationwide this year as the IRS continues to expand itspartnerships with nonprofit and community organizations performingthese vital tax preparation services.As part of the TCEprogram, AARP offers the Tax-Aide free tax preparation program atover 6,000 sites nationwide during the filing season. Trained andcertified AARP Tax-Aide volunteers provide assistance to taxpayerswith low-to-moderate income, with special attention paid to those 60and older.

Sanford saidthe military also partners with the IRS toprovide free tax assistance to military personnel and theirfamilies. The Armed Forces Tax Council consists of the tax programcoordinators for the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and CoastGuard. Volunteers are trained and equipped to addressmilitary-specific tax issues, such as combat zone taxbenefits.

Locations and hours of operation are oftenavailable through city information hotlines and local communityorganizations.Local VITA site information is also availableatIRS.gov or by callingthe IRS toll-free number 1-800-906-9887. To locate the nearest AARPTax-Aide site, call 1-888-227-7669 (888-AARPNOW) orvisitaarp.org.



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