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Hello Fooldom,
I have been lurking out here for some time and only recently delved deeper into "managing my own finances". I am in the process of setting up my first self managed portfolios but suddenly realize that I know little about the tax consequences of my decisions. My questions are the following:

1. I am currently contributing to a 403 b through my employer (A Public school).I am contributing pretax dollars and using this account as a tax shelter. I have been doing this for about 5 years now. I do not have the option of contributing to a self managed index fund through my employer. How is this account different for tax purposes compared to a self managed IRA (say a ROTH)? Can I do both? Is there a limit on the amount I can contribute to the 403B? I know that I can only contribute $2000 per year to a ROTH.

2. My wife is contributing to an employer matched 401k. We have maximized her contributions in order to receive the maximum company match. Once again I am setting up a ROTH for my wife and know that there is a $2000.00 contribution limit. The empoyer 401 K allows the employer to select a pretax or post tax contribution to the account (401K). What is the difference in terms of tax consequences? Are there penalties for contributing too much pre tax?

3. Assuming that I am able to get answers to any of the above questions how about this one.... Since I am currently 35 years old and still have some time on my hands should I roll my 403 b into a Roth? The value of the account is currently 8000 dollars. Will I do better in the long haul managing my own fund?

Thanks in advance for any guidance and tax wisdom you can provide.

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