By Panda Strong, Contributing Writer

Tax season is one that fills many with dread. However, there is plenty of help available if you remain calm and take your questions one at a time.

Begin by asking yourself what type of help you need. Do you need the encouragement of a person on the phone? Do you need face-to-face help in preparing your taxes? Are you comfortable working with an online site?

IRS Telephone Assistance

The most complete and authoritative tax information is provided by the Internal Revenue Service. For official IRS telephone assistance, call 1-800-829-1040.

Anyone may call this number to ask questions regarding forms, tax laws or preparation of tax returns.

If you are a low-income taxpayer, there is a program called the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA).

VITA provides volunteers to assist you in preparing and filing your tax return for free. Call 1-800-829-1040 to find the location nearest you. Hearing impaired people can call 1-800-829-4059 (TDD) and for business information you can call 1-800-829-4933.

Other Telephone Assistance

The TCE (Tax Counseling for the Elderly) is another IRS program. By calling 1-888-227-7669, it will allow you to locate a tax aide site sponsored by the AARP in your area.

These sites provide face-to-face help with preparing your taxes. If you are 60 or older, this service is free.

The United Way also provides assistance through the IRS VITA program. Call 1-800-358-8832 to contact the United Way.

According to UWBA.com, there is a great deal of information to be obtained in this manner. Information on tax credits such as the child tax credit and earned income tax credit (EITC) is offered.

Remember, even if you pay no taxes, you may qualify for a tax credit, but you must file to receive it.

The Web site NationalBusiness.org recommends the following places to obtain tax help:

  • Your Local Public Library: These institutions have long been known for having tax forms available to pick up. They are also places used by many groups to provide information and assistance to taxpayers.A list of who is sponsoring each event, along with date and time information, should be available by calling or by looking on the bulletin boards. Also remember that libraries often provide online access if you wish to contact any of the sites discussed later.
  • Local Community Centers: Local senior centers, social service agencies or neighborhood community centers often provide space for many groups that offer tax preparation assistance.Other places that offer such assistance would be the YMCA and the YWCA.
  • Your Church Or Ministry: Any caring group that you are familiar with and that you would feel comfortable asking for advice most likely can point you in the right direction.

Special Military Information

Military personnel from any branch of the service can file at any military VITA center, according to the LifeLines Web site.