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Bankrate's 2010 Tax Guide
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Finding free tax help

If you need more than just paperwork, head to a regional IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center, or TAC, for more personal problem solving. The IRS had planned to close many of these offices, but after receiving more money from Congress in late 2005, the agency reversed itself and kept most of the centers open.

At you can click on your state to find all TACs within its boundaries. Or use the online locator to find the center in or near your ZIP code.

The centers are open every business day, but call first to find out the exact hours of operation. And as with the phone lines, during filing season you likely will have a wait at the centers.

Community outreach

Your community also may offer IRS-sponsored help programs such as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, known as VITA, or Tax Counseling for the Elderly, usually referred to as TCE, programs. In both of these outreach efforts, which are aimed primarily at persons aged 60 or older, IRS-trained volunteers provide free basic tax return preparation services.

VITA is for taxpayers who cannot afford paid professional assistance, are elderly, have a low or fixed income (not more than $40,000), do not speak English, are disabled or have other special needs.

Call (800) 906-9887 to find the VITA or TCE site nearest you. Also check with AARP, the national advocacy group for older Americans formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons. AARP is the largest TCE participant and during filing season the group also operates Tax Aide programs nationwide. Call (888) AARPNOW, or (888) 227-7669, to see if AARP tax help is available in your area or use the organization's online Tax Aide locator.

If you have tax needs beyond filing your return, such as tax disputes or litigation, you might be able to get help from a low-income taxpayer clinic, or LITC. These groups represent eligible taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service in audit, appeals, and collection issues, and federal tax litigation for free or for a nominal charge.

Surf the tax 'Net

And, of course, you can stay right where you are -- at your personal computer. There's a wealth of tax information on the Internet. In addition to the tax news, tips and advice in Bankrate's 2010 Tax Guide, the IRS provides a wide variety of tax material at its Web site.

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