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Actually, even if you are covered by a 401K, and regardless of whether or not you participate, you can still contribute to a TIRA. (new rules)

Those are very old rules, going back at least to the early 1990s.

For a long time now, you've been able to make a traditional IRA contribution as long as you have earned income.

The question is whether you can DEDUCT those contributions. And that is where the question of participating in an employer's plan comes in. If you do participate, you have a lower AGI restriction on DEDUCTING your IRA contribution than if you don't participate.

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