Help in completing your tax returns is available free of charge from the IRS and other sources by calling taxpayer-assistance services in various local jurisdictions.

An IRS representative will answer your questions in the District and Maryland suburbs at 488-3100 and in Northern Virginia at 557-9320.

The IRS also sponsors the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE), which provide free help to the elderly, individuals with special needs, lower income and non-English-speaking taxpayers. For a list of VITA and TCE offices in metropolitan Washington, see pages 19 and 20.

To find out about such assistance if you live in outlying areas of Virginia or Maryland, call the IRS toll-free at 1-800-424-1040 and ask for the location of the VITA or TCE office nearest you. If you live in the District, Montgomery or Prince George's counties, call the IRS at 483-3100 and ask for the taxpayer education coordinator, who will assist you.

And you can call any one of 150 different taped messages on federal tax-related topics, 24 hours a day, seven days a week (except for rotary phone service, which operates weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:45 p.m.). This service, called Tele-Tax, can be reached in the District and Maryland on both push-button and rotary-dial telephones. In Virginia, Tele-Tax is available only on push-button phones, except in Richmond.

In the District and Maryland suburbs: 628-2929 (push-button and rotary).

For Baltimore and other locations in Maryland: 301-244-7306 (push-button and rotary).

In Northern Virginia: 703-557-0034 (push-button only).

In Richmond: 804-771-2165 (push-button), 804-771-2165 (rotary).

When you dial one of these numbers, you will receive instructions on the use of Tele-Tax. If you have a push-button phone, you will be instructed to punch in a code to select the three-digit code of the topic you want to hear. If you have a rotary phone, ask the IRS operator for the tape number. You can hear up to three tapes per call. A list of topics and their numbers is on page 33 of Form 1040 instructions.

Automated refund information. Beginning March 15, taxpayers who have filed for a refund and waited at least 10 weeks without receiving it can telephone the IRS to learn the status of their return. In the District and Maryland suburbs, 628-2929. In Northern Virginia, 703-557-0034.