Arkansans looking for assistance with their tax filing can likely find help free at various locations.

Arkansans looking for assistance with their tax filing can likely find help free at various locations.

The IRS-sponsored VITA Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and TCE Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs are in their 42nd year of providing free tax assistance in communities across America. In Arkansas this year, there are more than 80 community locations staffed by certified volunteers who have been trained by, or with the assistance of, the IRS in basic tax law and tax form preparation.

“Our volunteers are happy to help taxpayers with the free preparation and free electronic filing of their Forms 1040EZ, 1040A, or basic Forms 1040,” says IRS spokesman David Stell.

The volunteers will also assist with State of Arkansas tax returns, as well as ensuring eligible taxpayers receive tax benefits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, Education Credits, and the Credit for the Elderly. Virtually all locations will “e-file” electronically file the tax returns they prepare at no cost.

Generally, taxpayers whose incomes for 2011 were $50,000 or less are eligible to take advantage of the free service. The IRS estimates some 367,000 Arkansans are eligible to use the free VITA and TCE services.

“Last year, VITA and TCE volunteers in Arkansas helped Arkansans file more than 30,000 tax returns,” said Stell.

The volunteers will be providing assistance up until the April 17 tax filing deadline. Taxpayers can find the location of their nearest VITA or TCE free tax help site a couple of different ways — online and by telephone.

Locally, residents may also contact the ICVR/Weed and Seed for appointments at a VITA site by calling 536-7274.

Online, visit the IRS website where a nearby free tax help location can be found by entering a ZIP code: http://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep .

By telephone, call the IRS’ special free tax help locator hot line at (800) 906-9887, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. Most TCE locations are staffed by AARP Tax-Aide volunteers, who give special attention to those ages 60 and older. Tax-Aide sites can also be found by calling the AARP Tax-Aide information line, toll-free, at (888) 227-7669.