As the April 15 income tax filing deadline rapidly approaches, the Interanl Revenue Service reports that approximately 45 percent of taxpayers in the Washington area have not yet filed returns.

Don't panic, however, since help for completing federal and state tax returns is available from a number of sources.

"The fastest and most convenient help for most people is right in the step-by-step tax packages we mailed to them," IRS District Director Ted Kern points out. The IRS also has 90 other free publications that go into more detail on specific subjects. They are available at any IRS office.

District residents can receive telephone assistance from the IRS by calling 488-3100. The IRS says the best times to call are early in the morning, late in the afternoon and late in the week. The lines are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

If you need face-to-face assistance in filling out tax returns, it's available at the IRS office at 1201 E St. NW, Room 703, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. On April 15, the office will remain open until 7 p.m. for last-minute filers.

Returns will also be prepared for low-income, elderly and foreign-speaking taxpayers in their neighborhoods through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. Approximately 221 volunteers from college, church, library and senior citizen groups has been trained to offer this service. Taxpayers should bring along their tax packages, W-2 forms, last year's tax return and any other information necessary to prepare a tax return.

The following VITA centers in the District offer federal and D.C. tax preparation assistance to low-income and elderly persons:

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G St. NW, Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through April 12; Wednesdays, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. through April 10, and April 14 and 15, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Prayer Temple Church, 1259 K St. SE, Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through April 12.

Woodbridge Regional Library, 18th Street and Rhode Island Avenue NE, Saturdays, 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. through April 12; Wednesdays, 6 to 9 p.m. through April 9, and April 15 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Chinese Community Church, 1011 L St. NW, Saturdays and Sundays, 1 to 4 p.m. through April 13.

Chinese Community Church, 803 H St. NW, Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through April 15.

Greater Scripture Church of Our Jesus Christ, 810 O St. NW, Saturdays, April 5 and 12, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Howard University School of Business, 2345 Sherman Ave., Room 105, Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. through April 12.

God's Universal Kingdom, 619 16th St. NE, Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through April 12.

Strayer Business College, 601 13th St. NW, second floor, Mondays and Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call Allen Katz at 783-5180, extension 21.

Operation P.E.P., Protection for the Elderly Program, 1806 Adams Mill Rd. NW, for elderly persons only, by appointment. Call 265-4900.

George Washington University, Campus Legal Aid, 2000 H St. NW, by appointment. Call 676-7463.

Washington Highlands Library, Atlantic Street and South Capitol Terrace SW, 1 to 5 p.m. through April 10.

William Sherman, 2337 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, by appointment only. Call 871-2272.

Chevy Chase Community Center, 5601 Connecticut Ave. NW, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Mondays through April 14, and 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through April 15.

Cleveland Park Library, Connecticut Avenue and Macomb Street NW, 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through April 14, and 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesdays through April 15.

Guy Mason Recreation Center, 3600 Calvert St. NW, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays through April 15.

Mount Pleasant Library, 16th and Lamont Streets NW, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Mondays through April 14; 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through April 15, and 9:30 a.m to 1:30 p.m. Wednesdays through April 9.

Palisades Library, 49th and V Streets NW, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Mondays through April 14 and 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. Fridays through April 11.

Petworth Library, Georgia Avenue and Upshur Street NW, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays through April 15.

Takoma Park Library, 5th and Cedar Streets NW, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Mondays through April 14.

Tenley Friendship Library, Wisconsin Avenue and Albermarle Street NW, 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through April 14.

Friendship Terrace, 4201 Butterworth Pl. NW, by appointment only. Call John Ahern at 244-7400.

Lighthouse for the Blind, 1421 P St. NW. Call Fannie Boyls at 462-2900.

Benning Library, Benning Road at Minnesota Avenue NE, 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through April 15; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays through April 9, and 1 to 5 p.m. Thursdays through April 10.

Capitol View Library, Central Avenue and 50th Street NE, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through April 15.

Woodbridge Regional Library, Rhode Island Avenue and 18th Street NE, 1 to 5 p.m. Fridays through April 11, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays through April 12.

Anacostia Library, Good Hope Road and 18th Street SE, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesdays through April 9.

Fort Davis Library, Alabama Avenue and 17th Street SE, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesdays through April 9.

Southeast Library, 7th and D Streets SE, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Mondays through April 14; 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through April 15, and 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesdays through April 9.

Southwest Library, Wesley Place and K Street SW, 1 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through April 9.

The following VITA centers in the District offer foreign language assistance in completing federal and D.C. tax forms.

Hispanic Catholic Center, 3055 Mount Pleasant St. NW, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. through April 15; Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Wilson Center, 1470 Irving St. NW, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 7 to 9 p.m. through April 10, Sundays, 2 to 5 p.m.

Gordon Center, 35th and S Streets NW, Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 3:30 to 7 p.m. through April 15.

National Baptist Church, 1501 Columbia Rd. NW, Mondays, Tuesdays, through April 15.

VITA tax assistance for deaf persons is available by appointment only from La Casa, 3166 Mount Pleasant St. NW. Call 462-8815. Assistance for blind persons is available by appointment only from the Lighthouse for the Blind, 1421 P St. NW. Call Fannie Boyls at 462-2900.