Many Arkansas taxpayers can take advantage of a free tax preparation service when they file their federal income taxes.
If your 2011 adjusted gross income was less than $57,000, visit www.IRS.gov/freefile to prepare and complete your federal tax return at no cost. You can also e-file your return at the same web site.
This free preparation service is possible through a partnership between the Internal Revenue Service and the Free File Alliance, which is a coalition of tax software companies.
According to IRS promotions of the IRS Free File program, everyone who made $57,000 or less last year can use it for free. If you choose to receive your refund through direct deposit into your bank account, the federal refund may arrive as quickly as within 10 days.
When you click on the IRS Free File website – www.irs.gov/freefile you will find a list of companies. Choose the one that fits your needs or use the “help me find a company” tool. After selecting a tax software company, you will be transferred to that company’s website, where you can then prepare, complete and electronically file your federal income tax returns.
According to a spokesman for the Free File, 33 million Americans have used the tax preparation program. A 2009 survey commissioned by the IRS found that 96 percent of users felt that Free File was easy to use, and 98 percent of filers said they would recommend the program to others.
The IRS estimates that as many as 100 million American taxpayers are eligible to take advantage of the Free File program because their income last year was less than $57,000.
Arkansas performed better than the national average in 2010 in terms of growth in exports to foreign markets, according to a national report released by the Brookings Institution.
Nationwide, exports were up 11.4 percent and in Arkansas they were up 13.2 percent. The value of Arkansas exports was $11.3 billion, ranking us 35th nationally. The United States as a whole exported almost $1.6 trillion in goods and services.
Unlike many other reports, the Brookings study accounted for services as well as commodities. That meant it included in Arkansas exports such things as royalties earned from patents and trademarks. It also included in its definition of exports the amounts spent in Arkansas by tourists from overseas.
Exports can be directly attributed for about 39,700 jobs in Arkansas. They indirectly support 83,600 jobs.
An indication of the importance of agriculture in Arkansas is that almost 46 percent of our state’s exports are from non-metropolitan areas. That contrasts with national trends, which indicate that 61 percent of total American exports are manufactured products. The report, titled “Export Nation,” emphasizes the fact that recent growth in American exports has occurred mainly in metropolitan areas.
The authors pointed out that many American industries do not traditionally consider foreign markets when they plan their business models, and they urge business and civic leaders to promote a “culture shift” to make companies aware of overseas markets.
Only 1 percent of American companies export. That percentage has not gone up in recent years, in spite of the fact that exporting was one of the few growth sectors in an otherwise sluggish economy, enjoying two-and-a-half years of continuous growth.
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