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Governor Beebe's Weekly Column and Radio Address: Helpful Resources for Arkansas Taxpayers

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At this time of year, Americans are preparing to file their tax returns. It is important for Arkansans to utilize every available resource in filing both state and federal 2010 tax returns.

Our taxes allow the government to provide services to the people of our Nation and our State. The majority of state tax revenue is used to pay for public education, corrections and medical care. Most of our federal taxes are spent on Social Security, national defense and medical services.

Filing a tax return can be an onerous task. There are many intricacies in the tax code, and the laws change from year to year. Approximately 60% of Americans have professionals complete their returns or purchase tax software to file returns on their own. However, these options can be expensive and unfamiliar for many Arkansans, who are anxious to ensure the accuracy of the results. This year, there are more ways to help do that reliably and in more user-friendly methods.

Both the IRS and the State of Arkansas provide free filing options for those who qualify. The IRS Free File program is a partnership between the IRS and approximately 20 software providers. If you made $58,000 or less in 2010, you are eligible for a free tax software product available through the IRS Web site. This service is available to more than 100 million Americans.

Arkansas is one of 29 states that also provides a free filing option to its citizens. If you meet the eligibility requirements, you may qualify to use free tax-filing software donated by one of several providers. Simply go to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration's Web site to get started.

Filing your return electronically through the state and federal Free File programs provides other benefits, as well. The free tax preparation software can help Arkansans prepare, complete and file their returns quickly and correctly. And because returns are filed electronically, refunds are processed promptly and can even be deposited directly into your bank account.

Additional resources are also available for people who need help to prepare their tax returns. The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, or VITA, offers free tax help for low-to-moderate-income people in communities around the country. Individuals, who made less than $49,000 in 2010, may have their returns prepared for free by certified, trained volunteers at VITA sites around Arkansas. To find your local VITA site, go to the IRS Web site or call 1-800-906-9887.

For Arkansans aged 60 and older, the IRS sponsors the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program. Through AARP and nonprofit organizations, volunteers provide basic income tax return preparation for senior citizens.

Arkansas families are looking to save money wherever they can. These free file options from the IRS and the State of Arkansas provide relief for those who qualify. The assistance may also help families find credits and deductions that they are entitled to but unaware of. For more information about the Free File programs, or to get started on your tax return, please visit www.irs.gov and www.dfa.arkansas.gov.


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