Barely two weeks remain before the April 15 income tax filing deadline, but the IRS reports that nearly half the taxpayers in the Washington area have not yet sent in their returns. Deadline pushers need not panic, however, because help 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," said IRS District Director Ted Kern. The IRS also has 90 other free publications that go into more detail on specific subjects. They are available at any IRS office.

Montgomery and Prince George's County residents can get telephone assistance from the IRS by calling 488-3100. Residents in other Maryland locations may call, toll free, 1-800-492-0460. The best times to call are early in the morning, late in the afternoon and later in the week. The lines are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

In-person help in filling out returns is available at IRS offices in the Penn Silver Office Building, Room 204, 5408 Silver Hill Rd., Suitland, and Plaza South at the Wheaton Plaza Shopping Center in Wheaton. The offices are open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. On April 15, they will remain open until 7 p.m. for last-minute filers.

Returns will also be prepared for low-income, elderly and non-English speaking taxpayers in their neighborhoods through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA). About 220 volunteer college, church, library and senior citizen groups in the Washington area have been trained to offer this service. Tax-payers 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 Montgomery, Prince George's and Howard counties offer federal and state tax preparation assistance. HELP FOR THE ELDERLY: ACCOKEEK -- Accokeek Senior Activity Center, Knights of Columbus Hall, Livingston Road and Wilson Lane, Tuesdays through April 15, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

BETHESDA -- United Church of Christ, 10010 Fernwood Dr., weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment only, call 565-5705; Community Center, 4506 Walsh St., weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment only, call 565-5705; Public Library, 7400 Arlington Rd., weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment only, call 565-5705.

BLADENSBURG -- Emerson House, 5999 Emerson St., Wednesdays through April 9, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

BOWIE -- City Hall, 2614 Kenhill Dr., Wednesdays and Thursdays through April 10, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

BRANDYWINE -- Brandywine Fire House, Mondays and Thursdays through April 14, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

CAPITOL HEIGHTS -- Hampton Mall, Department of Aging, 9171 Central Ave., Mondays and Tuesdays through April 14, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Capitol Heights Town Hall, 1 Capitol Heights Blvd., Thursdays through April 10, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

CLARKSVILLE -- Clarksville Fire Station, Route 32 and Route 108, by appointment only. Call 992-2327.

COLUMBIA -- Oakland Mills Senior Activity Center, Oakland Mills Village Center, Thursdays through April 10, 1 to 4 p.m.; Kahler Hall, Harpers Farm Road, Mondays through April 14, 1 to 3:30 p.m.; Owen Brown Place, 7080 Cradlerock Way, by appointment only, call 992-2327; Shalom Square, 6220 Foreland Garth, by appointment only, call 992-2327; Longwood Gardens, 6150 Foreland Garth, by appointment only, call 992-2327.

ELLICOTT CITY -- Carroll Building, Manpower Training Room, 3450 Court House Drive, Tuesday through April 15, 1 to 4 p.m.; Thomas C. Marmon, 9549 Route 99, by appointment only, call 465-3152.

FOUR CORNERS -- Marvin Memorial Church, 33 University Blvd. East, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment only, call 565-5705.

GAITHERSBURG -- Gaithersburg Rental Center, 212 E. Diamon Ave., weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment only, call 565-5705.

GLENARDEN -- Glenarden Library, 8724 Glenarden Parkway, Mondays through April 14, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

GREENBELT -- Greenbelt Recreation Center, 25 Crescent Rd., Tuesdays through April 15, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

HYATTSVILLE -- Hyattsville Library, 6530 Adelphi Rd., Wednesday, April 9, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Tuesday, April 8 and 15, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.; Hyattsville First United Methodist Church, Queens Chapel and Queensbury Road, weekdays through April 15, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

KENSINGTON -- St. Paul's Methodist Church, 10401 Armory Ave., weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment only, call 565-5705.

LANGLEY PARK -- Langley Park Professional Building, 7676 New Hampshire Ave., Mondays and Wednesdays through April 14, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

LARGO -- Prince George's Community College, Large Road, Tuesdays and Thursdays through April 15, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

LAUREL -- Laurel Recreaction Center, 900 Montgomery Ave., Mondays through April 14, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

MARLOW HEIGHTS -- Marlow Heights Recreation Center, 2800 St. Clair Dr., Wednesdays through April 9, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

MOUNT RAINIER -- Mount Rainier City Hall, 3409 Rhode Island Ave., Tuesday and Thursdays through April 10, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

RIVERDALE -- Riverdale Presbyterian Church, 6513 Queens Chapel Rd., weekdays through April 15, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

ROCKVILLE -- United Methodist Church, 112 W. Montgomery Ave., weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment only, call 565-5705; Bethany House, 199 Rollins Ave., weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment only, call 565-5705; Jewish Community Center, 6125 Montrose Rd., weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment only, call 565-5705; Bauer Drive Community Center, 14635 Bauer Dr., weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment only, call 565-5705.

SANDY SPRING -- Friends House, Quaker Lane, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment only, call 565-5705.

SILVER SPRING -- Forest Glen Senior Center, 1000 Forest Glen Rd., weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment only, call 565-5705; Senior Center, 1400 Fenwick La., weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment only, call 565-5705; Community Center, 8728 Colesville Rd., weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment only, call 565-5705.

TAKOMA PARK -- Takoma Tower, 7051 Carroll Ave., weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment only, call 565-5705.

WHEATON -- First Baptist Church, Georgia Avenue and Veirs Mill Road, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment only, call 565-5705; St. Mary Magdalene Church, 3820 Aspen Hill Rd., weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment only, call 565-5705. HELP FOR LOW INCOME AND ELDERLY PERSONS BLADENSBURG -- Bladensensburg Branch Library, 4820 Annapolis Rd., Wednesday, April 9, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

COLLEGE PARK -- University of Maryland, Student Union Building, Rooms 0118, 0120 and 0122, April 8, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

FAIRMOUNT HEIGHTS -- Fairmount Heights Branch Library, 5904 Kolb St., Saturday, April 12, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

LAUREL -- Laurel Branch Library, 507 7th St., Monday, April 14, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

OXON HILL -- Oxon Hill Branch Library, 6200 Oxon Hill Rd., Wednesday, April 9, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

ROCKVILLE -- Pump House, 401 Horner's Lane South, Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. through April 15 by appointment only, call 424-8000, extension 243; David Scull Courts, Administration Office, Taft and First Streets, Wednesdays from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. through April 15 by appointment only, call 424-8000, extension 243.

SILVER SPRING -- Tess Community Service Center, 8513 Piney Branch Rd., Saturday, April 12, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Silver Spring Library, 8901 Colesville Rd., by appointment only, Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through April 12 (call 589-8527), and weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (call 565-5705); White Oak Library, 11701 New Hampshire Ave., by appointment only, Saturdays through April 12, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (call 622-2492), and weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (call 565-5705).

TAKOMA PARK -- Columbia Union College, Campus Center, Flower Avenue, Sundays through April 13, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

TEMPLE HILLS -- Hillcrest Heights Branch Library, 2398 Iverson St., Thursday, April 3, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. FOREIGN LANGUAGE ASSISTANCE Hispanic Catholic Center, 1015 University Blvd. East, Langley Park, by appointment only, Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., call 431-3773; Spanish Speaking Community of Maryland, 8519 Piney Branch Rd., Silver Spring, by appointment only through April 15 call 587-7217.